Thursday, October 31, 2013

Books Read in October 2013

I'm thinking October 2013 will go down in the annals of reading history as an incredibly spectacular month.  Because it was this month that I discovered Gayle Forman. I not only devoured four of her books, (one of them twice) but also passed them along to five, yes five, people.  Plus, there was a new Rainbow Rowell book that was a fabulous fun read--that one was also passed along--and other good YA.  This includes one YA with, well, a lot of what we think those YA kids are up to all the time.  And I read some great picture books and a solid Book Club Book.  I read a lot this month.  And it was good.

Picture Books
Aaron Becker
Read for Librarian Book Group
Picture-only book of a girl with a red crayon who draws a door in her bedroom wall and escapes into another world.  She explores a forest, city, the air and encounters mildly troubling pirates, of a sort.  Beautiful, soft-focused landscapes.  I had some problem with some of the city pictures.  The close-up views didn't seem to match the macro views.  People not as picky as me might not even notice.

A Big Guy Took My Ball
Mo Willems
Read for Librarian Book Group
Elephant Gerald and Piggy learn about relative size.  Funny interactions.

Brian Floca
Read for Librarian Book Group
Take a ride on one of the first steam engines to cross the country.  Pictures are quaint, in that comfortable Garth-Williams-Laura-Ingalls-Wilder style and the historical information is interesting, as are the workings of the machine.  I even found my self exclaiming aloud, "ah" at least once as some bit of knowledge was passed on to me.  I found the "verse" (if that's what it was?) a bit distracting, but not overly so.  For what it's worth, the Librarians reported it was a fabulous read-aloud.

Xander's Panda Party
Read for Librarian Book Group
The kind of rhyming prose that inspires glee in me, rather than a chugga-chugga-sing-song thing.  Very darling illustrations.  I felt for that Panda, man. I've thrown parties. I know how it goes.

Daisy Gets Lost
Chris Raschka
Read for Librarian Book Group
I wasn't much of a fan of the blurry watercolor style, but laughed aloud at some points.

How to Train a Train
Jason Carter Eaton
Read for Librarian Book Group
Whimsical illustrations of how to choose and capture a train of one's own.

The Thing About Luck
Cynthia Kadohata
Read for Librarian Book Group
Summer is 12, was born in Kansas, still lives in Kansas, and travels the combine circuit with her Japanese grandparents and her brother.  Excellent characters, amusing throughout and quite educational, if one does not know the ways of the combine circuit.

YA Novels
Lola and the Boy Next Door
Stephanie Perkins
If you remember the friends we made in Perkins's earlier book, Anna and the French Kiss, they appear as minor characters here, which I find fun.  Lola is a girl who likes to make an impression.  She likes clothing, movies and her rocker boyfriend.  She navigates her last year of high school as best she can, with the support of her best friend and her two dads.  Then the boy next door moves back next door after a hiatus and things go haywire.

Good adolescent uncertainty, fun urban setting, excellent descriptors of heartbreak.  I sometimes found the plot details a bit too convenient, but not overly distracting.

Just One Day
Gayle Forman
I could make some new shelves on Goodreads for this book.  How about these:
read in fewer than 12 hours
read everything by the author immediately afterward

Maybe it could go on a shelf called,
bought the book, bought the sequel IN HARDCOVER then checked two additional copies out of the library to lend out.

Or maybe
passed on to five people within a month

All of those descriptors would work.

Take the Before Sunrise concept, but set it in Paris with an 18- and 20-year-old.  That is plenty pleasant enough, but then Ms. Forman takes an amazing turn and the book becomes about identity and Shakespeare and how we make choices in our lives.  There's great friendship stuff in here, and incredible characters and I just want you to set down what you are reading and pick up this book.  It's that good.  Really.

Did I mention there was a sequel?

Just One Year
Gayle Forman
We've spent time with Allison in Just One Day, now let's see what's going on with Willem's story.  Forman is in fine form, and it's fun to see the story from Willem's perspective and follow on his journey.  When I have both books back in my possession--they've been lent out for more reading--maybe I'll comb through the books and set the story in chronological order, from a her-and-his perspective.

That's all I probably need to say, because if you've read the first book, there is no way you can't read this one.

Just One Day
Gayle Forman
I read it again.  Yes.

Rainbow Rowell
I read a lot of YA fiction in the years I was actually a YA (which in the book world means "teenager", not Young Adult, which I place in the 18-24 category.)  Anyway, even with my copious amount of reading YA novels, by the time I left for college I can only recall reading two books set in a college setting.  One was a novel set at Smith that made me want to attend a women's college. (Which I did.) The other was the story of a couple and the only other fact about that book I can recall was that the female protagonist did not live in the dorms because she had to take her cat with her to school and no cats were allowed in the dorms.  (I left my cat at home.)

The point is that, when I left for college, I had no idea what "college" was because no one wrote about what it was like to be in college.

Enter this book, which I would love to whisk back to 1993 and hand to myself.  Though I would be confused by many things in this book--Who is Harry Potter?  What is this fan fiction thing they speak of?--Rainbow Rowell captures the awkwardness of being a college freshman.

I loved this book, though I never really loved the Simon Snow (think Harry Potter and you've got the gist of Simon Snow) fan fiction.  I loved Cath's awkwardness, the pain of separating from her twin sister, and the trouble managing a new environment.  This book is funny and tender and gets points for being set in Nebraska.

Catching Jordan
Miranda Kenneally
I've been reading A LOT of incredibly outstanding YA Fiction.  Which is very good, but can also be bad for the psyche.  How will I ever manage to write something as good as, well, pretty much every YA I read this month?  So it was wonderful to read this, which I found pretty awful.  I feel bad saying it so plainly, because I enjoyed seeing Kenneally at Wordstock.  And I want to read a few more of her books, because I sense they are better.  This was a great concept--girl high school football quarterback and her dreams--executed almost entirely with torturous declaratory dialogue.  It made me feel so much better about my own fumbling on the page.  This is not the review I would want to read as an author, but hey, what can I say?

If I stay
Gayle Forman
This is an incredibly moving book and you will do yourself a favor if you just pick it up and begin reading.  Don't read what it's about, just read.  Mind where you will be when you finish reading it, though.  I don't recommend the Max Train.

Bonus Portland setting, if you are a fan of that.

Where She Went
Gayle Forman
Were you wanting more from If I Stay?  Here's your second book.  As with the first, I recommend picking it up and reading.  Don't read what it's about. Just read.

The Infinite Moment of Us
Lauren Myriacle
Read for Librarian Book Group
Holy shit!  There is a lot of well-described sex in this book.  And I love it!  I've been frustrated with YA's usual tactic of fading to black as things really get going, because I think well-written sex scenes are what teenagers need. Otherwise we are leaving them with either trashy romances or porn as their guiding stars.  And both of those are horrible guiding stars.  Myracle manages to capture a range of emotions: joy, exploration, confusion, worry, physical yearning.  There was even a horribly sexual relationship to compare and contrast with.  The book also comes with strong characters and also a goodly amount of tension that is not sexual.  Very well done.

(psst. the horrible Boston accent of a minor character was incredibly distracting.  The Boston accent is something that all writers--and actors,* for that matter--should stay away from.  We know what it sounds like.  We don't need for your to try to get all Zora Neale Hurston on us with it.)

*natives are exempted.  I'm looking at you Damon, Affleck (Ben,) & Affleck (Casey.)

"Grownup" Books
The Secrets of Mary Bowser
Lois Lavine
Read for Kenton Book Group
Interesting historical fiction about a slave who was freed, sent North to Philadelphia to be educated and then slipped back South to be a spy during the Civil War.  Good details, and overall a solid book that goes on a bit too long.

Gene Luen Yang
Read for Librarian Book Group
At book group, we were all in the same boat.  Saints had come in, but no Boxers.  So all of us pretty much agreed that we were clearly missing whatever Boxers provides.

I would love if all of human history was so ably translated into graphic novel form.  People would be a lot more interested in history.

Good book, though depressing.  I look forward to filling in the holes with Boxers.

Essay: A project for an ebb tide.

I’m about to embark on yet another project.  For those of you who know me, this isn’t much of a surprise.  I’m very project-focused.  In fact, were my blog a drinking game, most of the regular readers would be half-soused if the drinking word was “project.”  It’s not surprising that the universe found me a job at a school that uses the Project Approach to educate its children.  I’m all about the focused effort toward a goal that is the project.

I’m a bit at an ebb tide right now.  In fact, last night I started to write an essay about my ebb tide, but found I didn’t have enough energy to parse out what exactly that means and then format those thoughts into legible sentences, let alone paragraphs.  I can tell you that I don’t have a lot of extra oomph right now.  And that I don’t want to be a lot of things I usually am happy to be.  Farmer for one, that’s currently on hold.  The yard is a mess.  Enthusiastic athlete, that’s another one.  Running (jogging, really) has been on hold, because every time I do it, I hurt my foot.  I’m just doing a bit of walking in the mornings for now. Homemaker, there’s another thing I’m not really interested in right now.  I’m cooking at a minimal level to feed myself and doing just a bit of cleaning to keep the house in barely contained order.  But that’s it.

I think this feeling will pass. It feels temporary.  I might just be overly tired—I haven’t really been sleeping very well the past few weeks—or hunkering down for the cold winter.  Maybe my ancient farmer within wants me to rest after the harvest, despite the fact I never really got around to harvesting this year.

So while I’m waiting for the flood tide to return, here’s what I’m doing:  I’m writing 500 words a day from tomorrow until the end of the year.  That’s 500 words times 61 days.  I’ll have 30,500 words come December 31.  30,500 words of what, you ask?  Well, that would be the new novel I started in July and wrote daily until school started to ramp up again.  My plan is to get a first draft (hence the project) and then do something I’ve never actually done:  revise that first draft into something actually good.

I’ve written about 17,000 words already, mostly in chunks larger than 500 words.  That plus my 30,500 to come will have me ending up short of the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000, (and with two months instead of one) but that’s fine.  Ebb tide is saying NaNoWriMo isn’t really doable this year.  So I’ll adapt.  I know I can write 500 words in about 20 minutes and I feel like I can find 20 minutes per day from now until the end of the year.  And I know that I feel better having written.  And I know I just want the thing to get written.  And then I want it to be better.

I might have time to throw in an essay for the blog now and then, but if I don’t, maybe I’ll post a bit or piece of what I’m working on.  But perhaps not.  We shall see.  At any rate, I’m off on another adventure.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

45RPM: Runaway Train, Soul Asylum

Where I match a song to a specific memory.
My brother is two years younger than me and we inhabited different worlds for most of our growing up.  I was books, he was sports.  I was rules he was push.  I was lonely, he was surrounded.  I was nerdy, he was popular.  I was struggle, he was ease.  By the time we had both settled into attending the same high school (he a sophomore, I a senior) we had our routines down and our orbits really only crossed at the dinner table and on vacations as well as a random day now and then when we did something together.

Except for a few standouts, most of his friends have melded into one friend amalgam.  They were of the same time, the kind of hippy, kind of athletic popular kids, who did much more socially than I ever did in high school.  Our age difference seemed vast at that time, and I always felt a combination of bemused at their childish/grownup antics and kind of inferior to their social status.  I mostly left them alone, though we weren't unfriendly to each other.

Some of them sought me out, for whatever reason.  I found a journal entry that described a party my brother hosted while my parents were out of town (the exact kind of party, in fact, that kept my parents from leaving town for nearly all of my high school experience) where two of his friends found me in my room and chatted me up.  I even printed out and saved what they wrote when they were messing around on my word processor.  They cracked me up, even twenty years later.

I have a clear memory of one friend--name lost to time--encountering me on the stairs as I was leaving for work.  He gripped the Soul Asylum album Grave Dancer's Union in his hand and was giddy with delight over something.  "Look!" he said to me, pointing to the CD cover.

"Butt." he indicated the naked girl on the right.

"Butt" he indicated the naked girl on the left.

"No butt." all that was left was the girl in the middle.

I smiled and nodded and continued on my way, confused as always by my brother's friends.  And I think of that encounter every time I think of this song.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I can't tell you what this is. I'm not even supposed to have taken the pictures, much less put them on the blog.

But I'm a rebel that way.
I can tell you that 1) it happened at school and 2) I will tell you more in January or February.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kale Salad a la Casey.

This summer I had a great Kale Salad made by bride Casey for her wedding.  It was massaged kale and had quoina in it and was very, very good.

Upon receiving a bumper crop of kale from my colleague John, I put together this Kale salad inspired by her creation.

Here's the recipe:

Bring 1.75 c. water to boil and add 1 c. quoina.  Turn heat to low and cook until done, approximately 20 minutes.

Clean and remove the stems from a whole lot of kale.  2-3 bunches from the store, or a huge bowl's worth from your garden.

Put the cleaned and stemmed kale in a bowl and add 1 t salt.  Set a timer for five minutes and squeeze the kale in your hands.  Nothing will happen at first, but by the end of the five minutes, the kale will have nicely broken down.  Squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the kale and transfer your kale to a cutting board.

Clean out the bowl, discarding the salty kale juice, then finely chop the kale and return to the bowl.

Grate two carrots on top of the kale.

Cook 2-3 (or possibly 4?) rashers bacon, drain and cool.  The chop into small pieces and add to the bowl.

Put those on top of the kale and carrots.

When the quoina is done, add it to the bowl.

Mix up a curry vinaigrette.  In a separate bowl add 1/4 c. oil, 1/4 c white vinegar, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 T packed light brown sugar, 1 T minced fresh chives, 1/2 t. curry powder and 1/2 t soy sauce. Mix until combined.

Pour over the salad in the bowl and toss everything to combine.  Good cold, also probably good warm.

Postcards from Montana and the Netherlands.

This is from my friend Susan, wishing me a happy birthday.

And this was a fabulous piece of mail from a fellow Postcrosser.
The envelope, which was handmade.
A letter, written on that awesome thin paper.  It contained a quote from Maria Montessori, "Help to do it myself."
Then the actual postcard, which came from Ikea.  That heart with the map on it is a bookmark.
Look at the back!  So incredibly pretty!

Thanks so much Marja.  I love this.

Scenes from a day off.

I took the Monday after my birthday off to recover from the many celebrations.  This was wise.  It was a great day.  

On Sunday I drove to Ikea and bought two more packs of clippy things for the curtain wire.  Today I could take out the wibbily-wobbly and all the postcards are straight now.

I caught up my checking accounts, both the paper copies and the computer record.
I had a light treatment for the psoriasis and then it was such a nice day that I walked down to the Rose Quarter to catch the train into town so my friend could buy me a post-birthday drink.  I also wrote a letter while I was waiting for the various trains to take me places.
I laid out the shrug pattern on the shrug material.

It was a great day off.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Tonight was my reading.  I meant to take a picture at the bar with my story leaning up against my cocktail and the dark atmosphere really setting the stage.  But I forgot.  I was nervous and then I was busy listening to the others (I went second) and then I was talking with my friends that came out and then I was talking with the other people in my class and before you knew it, I was home and instead of a dark, atmospheric photo, you got a picture of my Sunday paper and my reading.  But you already read it earlier in the week.

Things to note about this experience:  I loved it.  It was very fun to get up in front of people and read something I wrote.  I practiced a lot and thought throughout my many practice sessions, "there is absolutely nothing I can cut from this."  Then when reading I left out entire sentences, thinking, "yep, that doesn't actually need to be said."  It was very interesting to observe that going down.  The lights meant I couldn't see anyone while I read.  That was unfortunate, as I would have loved to see some expressions.  But I could hear a bit of laughter in parts, so that was cool.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Vintage Cakes. Texas Sheet Cake

Quite delicious and easy to make.
I encountered two difficulties.  One was that I had a 9 X 13 pan, but not a 10 X 15 pan.  My mom did, and I was all set to borrow it, but then left it at her house, and thus, ended up using the 9 X 13.  That didn't seem to make a ton of difference.

My second problem was that the directions didn't explicitly say to leave the cake in the pan and so I tried to remove it.  That was a bad idea and ended with me dropping the cake, causing part of it to shift, as you can see in the picture.  I wrote myself a note to leave the cake in the pan for next time.  You make the cake, make the frosting, pull the cake out of the oven, pour on the frosting and then let the whole thing cool.

Overall, very good cake and I'm excited to try the variation with cinnamon and coffee.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Three sentence movie reviews: Friday Night Lights Season 5

This was a good season, filled with the usual high-caliber dramatic tension set amongst the High School football field.  However, the series ending was so disappointing it colored the entire season and I feel cheated.  How could a show built on the foundation of struggle give every single character exactly what they wanted in the end?

Cost: free from library
Where watched:  at home, with Matt

poster from:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Essay: From the middle.

I've been taking a writing class through the Attic Institute.  It is a five-week class that ends this Sunday and culminates (at least to my mind) in a reading.  That's right, I'm doing a reading at a bar.  With my other classmates, of course.  There was no time for an essay this week, as I've been polishing my piece.  But perhaps you want to read what I will read? This is from the middle of the book I'm working on, and some of you might recognize part of it from a prompt I wrote earlier this summer.  The book has three main characters:  Irene, Eddie and Alex.  This part mostly concerns Irene and her friends as well as Eddie.  Alex is mentioned once, but otherwise is not present.

            There were five of them, piled in the car.  Five of them barely fit in the tiny white Mustang II, but they made do.  Irene was driving, of course, and Katherine, due to a complex matrix of length of friendship combined with an early opt-in option she created herself, had permanent shotgun.  As Karen, Eddie and Marie dove into the back seat, Irene realized she and Eddie had been together long enough for a routine to develop.  Karen and Marie always put Eddie in the middle, because he could stretch his long legs out between the two bucket seats while he wrapped his arms around her friends.  Still, it hadn’t quite become routine.  Eddie caught her eyes in the rearview mirror, checking to see if he was okay.  She smiled and patted him on the shin, enjoying the change she’d seen over the past few months.  The first time Karen and Marie had sandwiched him, he made himself small, pulling in his arms and tucking his hands between his legs.  Irene was glad things were more comfortable now.
            “You look like you are enjoying your harem” Irene remarked as he settled into place.
            “He wouldn’t know what to do with a harem consisting of the four of us.” Marie bumped Eddie with her shoulder adding a physical jab to her mocking.
            “I don’t know,” Karen remarked.  “He spends enough time with Alex.  He must have picked up some tips.”
            Eddie laughed at their teasing, something else Irene had noticed he had become more comfortable doing.  “I have some ideas of my own for a harem, but for right now, I’ll stick with Irene. I’ll keep you in mind for the day I do take on a few extra women.”
            “That will be the day after I take on a few extra boys.” Irene commented, arching an eyebrow as she cranked her window down.  Katherine had already done so, letting the last heat of the day escape from the blue interior. 
            Irene started the car while Katherine leaned over to flip the radio station to something halfway decent and they drove off into the night.   The car only had an AM radio, but there were a few good stations, all of them playing oldies of some sort.  When they couldn’t find anything good on the radio, one of them would break into song and the rest would join in.  They knew a lot of songs. 
            After winding through the flat of town to the foothills, Irene stopped at the tiny neighborhood grocery store.  It was past dark, but before curfew, and the clerk smiled, knowing what they were up to.  She’d seen it before, kids spilling out of cars, swarming the store and happily lining up to hand over their dollar and change.
            Purchase made, they piled back in and drove up the road, then turned and parked in the glare of the church parking lot near the hill.  They rolled out of the car and pulled their towels and bags out of the trunk.  Katherine, Karen and Marie headed off toward the hill immediately, but Eddie pulled Irene back for a kiss. Marie turned back to say something to Irene, and when she caught the couple with their tongues in each other’s mouths again, she let out a catcall that whipped Karen and Katherine’s heads around.
            “I think we should start a PDA jar for you two” Karen called back to them. “One dollar for regular kissing, three dollars if we can see tongue.”
            “Marie is even disgusted.” said Katherine, referring to Marie’s infamous lip locks with her rotating cast of boyfriends.
            “Can’t you just save it for after you drop us off tonight?” Marie added.
            Irene squirmed away from Eddie, smiling, grabbed her bag and caught up to her friends. “Maybe I should take the money from this jar and use it to pay for the gas while I drive you guys around.  How much longer until you get your licenses?”  Irene had been the chauffer for two years now, as she was in the last group of Idaho teenagers to receive a license at 14.  Her friends had to wait a very long two years to get theirs.
            “I’m good in four weeks.” Eddie loped along beside her.
            “Four months.” said Katherine.
            “Six” reported Marie
            “I’ve got more than a year.” sighed Karen.  She was younger than Irene and the age difference cropped up in frustrating ways.
            “Well then, I guess soon it will be Eddie doing the driving.” Irene commented.  “Then he really will feel like he has a harem.”
            Eddie’s eyes gleamed. “Yes.  I’m eager to see what the four of you will do when I’m hauling you around in my van.”
            “I have a feeling it will involve taking over the radio.” Marie suggested.
            “And a lot of loud singing.” Irene agreed.  “Is this car going to have an FM radio?”
            Eddie winced.  “Not if I can help it.”  The girls’ singing was enthusiastic and lusty, but not necessarily pitch-perfect.  There was a reason all of them chose band over choir, and the wavering tunefulness sometimes got on Eddie’s nerves.  It was one of the prices he paid for hanging out with Irene’s friends.
            Their sentences grew shorter as they ascended the hill. It was a smooth hike, though steep.  The lawn had been graded and trimmed and Irene always wondered if the groundskeeper had to buy special mowers to maneuver such a slope.  Halfway up, Karen stopped, gasping, and they paused, sweating and panting while they stared at the city lights below them and caught their breath.  There were others around them—they could hear the laughter through the darkness—but the hill had room enough for everyone. 
            “Do you think he minds?” Karen stared up at the house above them, brightly lit against the summer night.
            “All of us here on his front yard?” Katherine asked.  “Probably not.”
            “Then why do we always do this late at night?” Karen asked.  “I’ve never seen anyone Ice Blocking during the day.”
            “It’s more fun at night.” Eddie said as they resumed their journey. “It seems like we’re getting away with something.”
            When they reached a good starting point the five of them broke open their bags, and their blocks of ice slid onto the grass.  They expertly caught them with their feet, holding them in check as they shoved the empty bags into their pockets, careful not to litter, though Karen had lost a very nice ring last summer.
            Quickly, each person folded their towel into a small square that just covered the rectangle of ice and set it down on top.  They automatically lined up in a row and sat down on top of the towels, their feet holding them on the hill, though the ice wanted to slide away beneath them.  They would start at the same time.  Ice Blocking always called for a race.
“Ready?” Eddie asked looking up and down the line to check no one had an advantage.  Nods came back all around. 
“Set?” They leaned back.  When Eddie shouted “Go,” they lifted their feet and were off, sliding down the grassy hill of a billionaire potato magnate in the hot night of a desert summer.
            Irene knew that if she kept her feet up, she could make it all the way to the bottom, but she never could.  The glee of slipping down a hill as smoothly as if it were covered in snow while sweating in shorts and a t-shirt always translated into uncontrollable laughter and she always lost control, tumbling away from her ice as it continued to slide serenely toward the bottom.  If she was fast, she could bounce back up and catch the block before it had gotten too far from her.  It usually took her two or three tries to complete a single run, and she knew from experience she would never win the race.  Katherine always did, her taut athlete’s body controlling her descent, abs tight and laughter waiting until she reached the bottom, when she stood and turned to watch the rest of her friends slide in.  As Irene continued down the hill, half sliding, half rolling, she watched Karen barely beat Eddie, and Marie take fourth, before she herself rolled to the finish, convulsed with laughter as her ice slid away from her one last time.
            Eddie pulled her to her feet and the group wrapped their ice in their towels for the ascent, saving their hands from the cold blocks.  They made five or six runs before they headed to the car, sweaty from the climbs and with sore stomachs from the descents.

            Later, as she repeatedly combed through the moments of “Eddie & Irene,”; while she assembled the timeline of events, Irene was surprised to realize that Eddie had already made his decision by that night. She was soon to return to “she” and lose “us.” She had no idea.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Postcard from the Czech Republic

This is from Alex, who lives in Kouty "where lives about 30,000 people."  Alex likes cycling, heavy metal music and horror films.  This is not the first Heavy Metal fan from a formerly Easter-Block country that I've run across on Postcrossing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Postcard from Varna

You are familiar with Varna, Bulgaria, no?  Me neither.  But this postcard leads me to believe it's great!  Anastasiya is from Sevastopol, Ukraine, but now lives in Varna.  Her three facts:  She likes to travel with her family, she likes to joke and  "I dream to lose my weight."

Me too, Anastasiya.  But not all of it.  I'd like to keep some.

This was a great postcard, front and back.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shrug planning.

I have purchased a fleece blanket from Goodwill, which will be my "muslin."  Take that, expensive muslin.  I spent $4.00, not $20.00.
I used this link (warning: shrug pictured is not the shrug in the pattern) and mapped out my pattern.
Hmm.  Needs to be longer in the arm and more material in the back.
I will add some inches.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Three sentence movie reviews: Half Nelson

So the thing about addition when it is just happening and there is no start or finish is that addiction is really boring.  And this movie, though packed with good performances by hamster-eyed Gosling and the various women/girls in his life, is boring.  I was drinking a bit of whisky whilst watching and the movie just kept going on so long I only knew it had ended when the credits presented themselves to me, that's how little happens in this movie.

Cost: free from library
Where watched:  at home, with two fingers worth of Jack Daniels when I maybe should have just had one.

The agony of not knowing how to use your new camera.

There was an amazing moon setting over the trees.
And I tried, really I did.
But I don't know how to work this camera yet, and so I missed it.

It was amazing how fast the moon was setting.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Essay: So, are you?

“Are you a writer?”

It’s good to have an answer to that question if you attend a literary festival because people will ask you that question a lot.  I don’t really have an answer.  Am I a writer?

In the “yes” category, we have the evidence that I spend a lot of damn time writing.  I write letters, and postcards, I have written 67 essays, I write for my own blog which right now numbers around 1700 posts, or will be once I catch up to the posts I have yet to write.  I also wrote the first draft of a novel last year for NaNoWriMo and am working on another novel this year.  So yes.  Totally a writer.

On the no side?  No one actually pays me to write.  The sum total of my writer earnings consist of the $60.00 I won in college for a paper I submitted in my college’s academic writing contest.  I won first place for my research and summation about the German Peasant Revolt of 15-something.  Woo.

One of the things that I think makes Americans are boring is how focused we are on our careers.  When you are meeting someone for the first time and ask them what they do, they tell you what they are paid to do for the company that employs them.  Which, if they love their job and are excited to talk about it, is pretty cool.  But most people aren’t really interested in talking about their jobs.  I’m certainly not.  So I’ve taken to answering the question “What do you do?” with a question of my own:  “Would you like to hear what I do for pay, or what I enjoy doing?”  It’s much more fun.

But even when I talk about what I do for fun, I hesitate to bring up writing.  For one thing, I greatly enjoy writing for my blog, but I feel silly about the existence of the blog itself.  I think they’ve migrated over to the kind of uncool category.  And as for writing fiction, who hasn’t written a novel?  Thinking to the monthly breakfast I attend, at least four people there have written novels.  None of those novels have been published and really, does anyone read anymore?  I feel at times like writing is equivalent to manufacturing 35 millimeter film for film cameras.  There are people out there who still take pictures using film, but they are an ever dwindling bunch.

One of my roommates once told me the story of when she came to interview at the house we lived in together.  She asked the three roommates already in the house what they did and they answered, “Printmaker.” “Musician” “DJ”  It was only after she moved in that she learned that what they were paid for was “Temporary work,” “Housecleaning,” “Drug Dealing.”  I think of this story every time I think about claiming to be a writer. 

Maybe it’s the “new” factor that makes writing hard to claim. I’ve only been writing essays for two years and the fiction thing still feels very new.  Perhaps eventually I will be able to claim a small spot on the grand staircase of writers.  For now though I’ll keep it on the down-low.  An avocation, not a vocation.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Must. Have. Now.

Oh man, the book reviews don't come until the end of the month, but boy howdy did I fall in love with Gayle Forman's Just One Day.  When I saw Forman on the panel at Woodstock, the sequel to the book was mentioned as if it was available.  So you can imagine my horror when I looked on the library website and the sequel was not to be found, not even on order.  And then you can imagine my greater horror to realize that the book was not yet available in the bookstores.   Apparently, those on the panel at Wordstock had access to advance readers copies.  Curses!

Luckily, the availability date was a mere three days from the date I finished the first book.  But on that day the book was still in the Powell's warehouse.  So I marched over and asked them how I could get the book from the warehouse to my own hands and the nice lady arranged for it to be transferred.  She even patiently listened to my story of woe:  finished first book/next book not out yet.  Apparently she hears that tale a lot.  How do I know this?  "I hear that a lot." she told me.

So it was that a few days later I ran over to Powell's at 9:00am and picked up my book.  And so it was I began reading the book during my lunch break.  And so it was I finished the book by the evening's end.  And thus came to pass, that I lent the books out.  And thus came to pass that a lot of teachers at a certain school in which I work also became fans.

I hate this cover, by the way.  HATE IT.

But I do love that the book was so new it didn't even have a chance to get an official Powell's sticker on it and instead it has my name.

Monday, October 14, 2013


It was a beautiful day and I decided to walk home from my medical appointment.  At this intersection, I was struck with how very clearly the sidewalk had been delineated.

Graffiti mocking TBA on a Sherlock Holmes/OMSI ad.

As a person with a minor in Art History, I should gleefully embrace the Time-Based Arts Festival.  But I don't.  The whole thing makes me hold my breath in annoyance.  It seem so damn pretentious.  I am, however, a huge fan of witty/pointed graffiti, so I was happy to see the following addition to this billboard.


You tell them, graffiti artist.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vintage Cakes. Boston Cream Pie-lets.

Aside from being fun to say the name of, these are delicious.  I've never been a fan of Boston Cream Pie before, but I suspect this is because I've only had store-bought.

The recipe leaves you with a generous amount of leftover cake and a goodly amount of leftover pudding.  I found that to be just fine.

Small Couch.

Cute couch.

Small couch.

Small couch, small car, proportionate load.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Postcards from the Netherlands and Virgina

Yvette sends me a card from Texel, which is an Island that is part of the Netherlands.  The church is from her village.  I love how upright the church is.  I also love that the lambs are nursing.  There is not a lot of nursing usually happening on the postcards.
Here's another one from Kadir Nelson via Arlington, Virginia.  It's labeled #1, so it is not surprising that it arrived with...
#2, another Kadir postcard.  You would think that someone just saw Kadir live and in person.


I've had my eye on this corner since I moved to Kenton.  I love the uber-tiny house on the left and all that space just ready for a fabulous yard.  But the large tree that was on the lot has been removed.  And I'm worried that that large yard space will soon be gobbled up by a large house much like the green guy next door.  Who once upon was a much smaller house with a larger yard.

Oh infill, will there be any tiny houses with big yards left by the time I'm ready to move?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Camera!!!!!

With the sadness of the death of the old camera, comes the happiness of the new.  This one is another Canon.  It's a PowerShot SX170IS.  I'm not in love like I was with my previous camera.  But I think we will like each other very much.

Let's play!  Here is Antares, looking grumpy that I have taken his picture.
And again.
And here is how far away from Antares I was standing when I took those two pictures.  Excellent zoom!
Sentinel!  With flash.
Let's test the fish-eye feature.
Extreme fish-eye and Antares.
Back to normal.
Here's a new feature I didn't have before.  Timer, than three shots.  Here are three of Antares.
And three of Sentinel (with flash).
Three more of Sentinel (without flash).
Here is an early morning shot of Paul Bunyan peeking through the trees.

As soon as I read that owners manual (which I have to download as a PDF, it didn't come with the camera) we will discover all sorts of interesting things, I'm sure.

Welcome Canon PowerShot SX170IS!