Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Ladies First - Shel Silverstein (A Light in the Attic)

Pamela Purse yelled, "Ladies first,"
Pushing in front of the ice cream line.
Pamela Purse yelled, "Ladies first,"
Grabbing the ketchup at dinnertime.
Climbing on the morning bus
She'd shove right by all of us
And there'd be a tiff or a fight or a fuss
When Pamela Purse yelled, "Ladies first."

Pamela Purse screamed, "Ladies first,"
When we went off on our jungle trip.
Pamela Purse said her thirst was worse
And guzzled our water, every sip.
And when we got grabbed by that wild savage band,
Who tied us together and made us all stand
In a long line in front of the King of the land-
A cannibal known as Fry-'Em-Up Dan,
Who sat on his throne in a bib so grand
With a lick of his lips and a fork in his hand,
As he tried to decide who'd be first in the pan-
From back of the line, in that shrill voice of hers,
Pamela Purse yelled, "Ladies first."

Good night, America, how are you? Don't you know me, I'm your native son, I'm the train they call The City of New Orleans...

I am so sad for New Orleans. I love the city; if there were only one American city I could spend vacations in, it’d be New Orleans. It’s mysterious and magical and sexy and welcoming, and I adore the place. I’ve been there several times and each time was a blast. The food is amazing, the houses are lovely to look at, the people are mostly incredibly engaging, and the music is beyond belief. It’s a city with the most incredible energy. Checking the news this morning and seeing the devastation wrought by Katrina hurt my heart. (And I hope my bloggie pals who live down South are all ok.) I am going to go figure out which organizations I am going to donate to now. Red Cross is always a good bet, but Joke has a list at his blog you may want to check, with contact info and all that good stuff.


Today is Simon’s last day at his daycare. Next Wednesday he starts at preschool down the street. I wanted him to get accustomed to getting going in the mornings several days a week since next year he will be in kindergarten and the schools here are full-day, five-day-a-week kindergartens. It’s the end of an era, a bittersweet transition made slightly easier for me by the fact that Jude and then, soon, the new baby, will still go to the old daycare.

But Si wanted to mark the occasion somehow, so I baked cupcakes for his class. At ten o’clock last night. From a mix. I am so not together. Then this morning I dropped the boys off at daycare and swung by the grocery store to pick up two tubs of frosting – hey, they’re four, they don’t care about homemade frosting! I also got them two jars of sprinkles to decorate the cupcakes, and it turns out frosting and decorating and then eating the cupcakes will be one of the afternoon activities. Which made me happy because it meant I didn’t have to frost the cupcakes on the back tailgate of my car.

Si also asked me to get something to put on the cupcakes, so his friends had something to take home. He recently was at a party where he got a dinosaur ring in the icing on his cupcake. I couldn’t come up with rings on such short notice but I bought a little bag of plastic jungle animals for the kids in his class to divvy up. He seemed really happy with that. He only asked for them about six times, so I figured that while I thought it was sort of silly, he thought it was pretty darn important. I guess he wants his friends to remember him. Like I said – sort of bittersweet.

Then Dan and I decided we should get some little memento for his teacher, who is the director of the daycare and a wonderful, sweet woman who makes the experience there joyful and exciting and educational all at once. Miss Rebecca’s a gem and she loves Si, and he loves her. They really bonded big-time over the Frog and Toad books, so I bought a hardcover copy of Frog and Toad are Friends and Simon wants to sign it before we wrap it up and give it to her. I think she’ll like it; I know if it were me, I would treasure such a gift.


While at Joseph-Beth (lovely store but man are they pricey!), I scored FiveStar hazelnut bars. Gina and I have tried all the other flavors but Whole Foods never seems to carry the hazelnut ones. We’ll report back and let you know what we think.

Third Grade Angels

First grade babies, second grade snots, third grade angels, fourth grade dots. Fifth grade peaches, sixth grade plums, and all the rest are dirty bums.

I find it hard to believe that Teddy started third grade today, I guess because I have so many very clear memories of my own third grade year. I was in Darcey Tomko’s third grade class at St. Pius X, and I loved school. Things I remember about third grade:

  • Mrs. Tomko lit a candle in the classroom when John Lennon was killed.
  • We sang a lot, and competed in a singing competition called Adjudications at one of the local Catholic high schools. One song involved playing bells—the kind that are like individual notes from a xylophone—and I was thrilled. We didn’t win, but I still know all the words to the songs we sang.
  • Two boys liked me a lot. One sat next to me for a while, and dropped his pencil so he could lean down and bite me on the ankle. He’s a doctor now, I think. The other made me mix tapes featuring songs by Rush and Styx. He became quite the stoner lothario, and now does something involving computers.
  • I was in love with an eighth-grader named Patrick, and he was so nice to me! It strikes me as odd now that a boy that age could be kind to a dorky little girl.
  • I got my first pair of glasses, complete with a Holly Hobby glasses case. I will never forget the feeling of having to lunge on and off the curbs and stairs, as my depth perception went nuts for a while.
  • I had my first instance of cockiness getting in the way of doing good work: I breezily misspelled “bicycle” on a spelling test, and was positively red with shame when the test was returned with a less-than-perfect score. B-Y-C-I-C-L-E, indeed! I could spell “rhododendron”, dammit!
  • Our Religion teacher was a nun, Sister Robert Mary, and she told us that someday “they” (I’m assuming the Communists?) would drop a bomb that would kill all the people but leave all the structures standing. I don’t think I’ve ever been more haunted by an image. This was also the year we learned a song, “All Through the Night”, that our teacher told us was written for the mass funeral of a school-full of kids who were killed in an avalanche. Nice, huh?

    I could go on, but I’ll spare you. How can I have a kid old enough to be in third grade, when it really feels like I was just there myself?!?!?


    Happy Birthday to my sister. She’s 31. She looks like a monkey, and she smells like one too.
  • Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    Bye bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry...

    I have been reading Pascale de Draoulec’s American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads. Now I am more pie-obsessed than ever. I love pie, in pretty much any form, any flavor. If it’s good pie, I’ll eat any type. Pie is not, however, like pizza: if pie is bad, it can be very, very bad indeed. (And store-bought crusts can ruin a perfectly nice filling. If you must use store-bought, for God’s sake, spring for the Pillsbury ones in the refrigerator case, not the pre-panned ones in the freezer section. You might as well use cardboard.)

    I started thinking about pie last night while lying in bed trying to get me and the fetus comfortable enough to sleep. What I really wanted to do was get up and bake some pie. Sense prevailed. I had to work today. But I had a perfectly delectable piece of coconut cream pie at lunch today. My co-worker came back from lunch raving about the pie in the faculty dining room. So I girded up my courage, made sure I had my staff ID, and went and bought a slice of fluffy, creamy, crunchy coconut cream pie for a dollar and a quarter.

    I make a good apple pie; it’s such an easy pie to make, and it’s good with almost any kind of apple. I also learned to make a pretty kickass blueberry pie this summer: with Jersey blueberries it’s hard to go wrong. I have also tried my hand at pecan pie, Toll House pie (pecan and chocolate), pumpkin chiffon pie (what my mom always made for Thanksgiving), coconut custard (easy as – yes, pie, you make it in the blender, but since I am one of only three people I know who love it, I very rarely make it) and once even mincemeat pie, for a boy I loved -- who loved mincemeat pie (I often wonder if my mincemeat pie was what prompted him to propose?). I have found the pretty-much-perfect pie crust recipe, cobbled together after experiments with Fanny Farmer’s recipe (she is the authority on how to BAKE pie, and yes, it matters!), James Beard’s recipe, and a clipping from the newspaper so old it’s yellow and falling apart (finally the perfect proportion of Crisco to butter). If not for my food processor, I still would be struggling with pie crust but my trusty KitchenAid makes my pie crust life much simpler. Also, the purchase of a long, tapered French rolling pin, instead of one of those ones with the roll-y handles, helped immensely. I even confess to occasionally using one of those plastic circles with the zipper closure to get nice, even circles.

    I once tried to duplicate a pie - billed as a Mounds-bar type pie - I’d had in a restaurant that is among one of the most decadent things I have ever eaten. It was the only time in my life when I asked to speak to the chef; I wanted his recipe. He wouldn’t give it to me but he did give me several tips including using coconut milk instead of straight milk in the mousse. My duplicate started with homemade crust, a coconut macaroon layer topped with chocolate mousse, and whipped cream with more coconut on top. It wasn’t bad – not quite as good as the restaurant version but pretty darn passable.

    At the old house we had a sour cherry tree. Besides the almond-cherry tart and pickling them in vodka, I used to throw together cherry pies and put them in the freezer. They were nice to have on hand for funerals and for gifts – has anyone ever turned their noses up at homemade cherry pie?

    However, on that note: The first Thanksgiving I spent with my now-husband’s family, I baked an apple pie to take as a hostess gift. Not only did I get called by the ex-girlfriend’s name all night, but no one ate my pie because they were eating Dan’s sister’s fiance’s mother’s store-bought apple pie, “to be polite and welcoming,” Dan said. Yeah well, so much for welcoming me; should’ve tipped me off then. Any family that declines homemade apple pie truly does not deserve me and my pies in it : )

    Famous pie passages in books I have read and loved:
    The country fair scene in Farmer Boy in which Almanzo Wilder seems to eat his weight in pie of all sorts.
    The scene in Karen Stolz’s World of Pie when Roxanne’s mother teaches her to make pie crust.
    The chapter in Michael Lee West’s glorious Consuming Passions on funeral food, including the appropriate pies to take to the grieving.
    The Apple Pie chapter in John Thorne’s Simple Cooking, in which he suggests grating cheddar cheese over apple pie for a hearty breakfast (anyone who eats pie for breakfast deserves admiration; my next-door neighbor says her favorite breakfast is cold blueberry pie).

    Pie snippets:

    My husband and I, pre-children, used to road trip to camping sites for vacation and we’d stop at any little dive-y roadside café to try pie. He prefers fruit pie, especially blackberry; I’ll try whatever tickles my fancy. I am partial to anything coconut, and I am admittedly in love with lemon meringue. I am not crazed about peach pie or strawberry pie, and I’ve never had raisin or rhubarb pie, but I’d be willing to give them a shot.

    I have been known to eat and enjoy TastyKake lemon pies, the little rectangular ones that come in cardboard sleeves. My dad liked the Dutch apple ones with icing, but we both found the thought of the pineapple ones positively revolting. Somehow, even in such processed excess, they manage to make a nice, flaky, if a bit greasy, crust.

    I used to go to Max and Erma’s just for their version of Derby pie; warmed up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was bliss and often served as dinner.

    The boy who used to eat Derby pie with me also once accosted the caterer on a movie set for her sweet potato pie recipe. He promptly handed it over to me to try to make, but the Chantilly cream topping defeated me.

    There’s a little bakery in Squirrel Hill that makes lovely, tart, creamy, lemon and lime mini-pies.

    My mother rarely baked pie, except for Thanksgiving. But sometimes she’d buy a Pet-Ritz chocolate pudding pie. They were good. Especially still frozen. Sometimes we’d have those for our birthdays instead of cake.

    National Pie Day is celebrated on January 23. The best lemon meringue pie I’ve had was baked by a friend who joined with me to provide the office with pie on this happy holiday. She was distraught because the meringue had slid off the lemon filling but I managed to choke it down anyway. It was delicious, if messy.

    And just read this list of pies from the winners of the American Pie Council’s 2005 National Pie Championships. Is your mouth watering yet?

    “Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy boy, Billy boy? Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy? She can bake a cherry pie Quick as a cat can wink its eye. She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.”

    The Magic of Photoshop (Beware if you're at work: Bikinis are involved.)

    This link came from my friend Kate. If you click on Portfolio, you get a series of pics that have been retouched, and which you can roll your mouse over to see the original image. On the one hand, this frustrates me because I'm reminded of just how impossible the standards for women are. On the other hand, though, it was kind of empowering to see that even these beautiful women are lumpy and flawed. You know? I wish more people could see this. I showed it to Teddy, and he was amazed. It was a lovely lesson of "Don't believe everything you see," among other things.

    Sunday, August 28, 2005

    Every Party Needs a Pooper

    This may be profane and/or blasphemous, but I have to say it anyway: I hate Disneyworld. I do. I hate it. I hate the Magic Kingdom. I hate Epcot. I hate MGM and the Animal Kingdom. Call me a spoilsport. Call me un-American. I really hope I never have to go back to that sweltering pit of noise and excess.

    There certainly were cool things to see in each of those places (I liked “Tower of Terror”, “Mickey’s Philharmagic”, and the safari in the Animal Kingdom, and there was a great water park) and I am happy that Teddy and my mom had such a good time—it’s always fun to see the joy and excitement of people you love, even if you can’t really share it—but if it weren’t for their sakes, I would have either left early, spent the entire week in the hotel room, or carried on like a bored, annoyed, sweaty, tired baby.

    I can see how children would be thrilled with the place, especially if they care for particular movies or characters. Teddy loves to ride, and he’s still young enough that he didn’t notice how lame most of the rides are. (Aside from MGM’s “Tower of Terror”, which is a freight elevator version of Kennywood’s “Pitfall” and Cedar Point’s “Demon Drop”, I’ve ridden cooler rides in other parks.) Honestly, though, I think Teddy's favorite things were the little gecko things that ran rampant around our resort, and the Lego store in Downtown Disney. There was a whole family walking dogs with this Lego kid!

    I can even understand why my mom was so thrilled with the place—she’s 55 and has wanted to go to Disneyland since its inception when she was a little kid. It took her fifty years, but she finally got there, and with the added bonus of sharing it with one of her grandsons. I’ll forgive her enthusiasm.

    I can’t understand why adults would go there without kids, though. For the love of God, WHY would (many) people honeymoon there?!?!?!? I don’t get it.

    It seems to me that Disneyworld is nothing more than an enormous mall filled with photo-ops. Most of the rides aren’t even real rides—they’re simulators. And don’t get me started on Epcot’s “World Showcase”. It’s like Disney is saying, “Don’t bother to live life or experience anything for yourself. We’ll bring our version of everything right here to you, sanitized for your protection. Why would you go to France when you can talk to someone with a Parisian accent right here by this lovely fountain where you can be photographed eating a baguette?” Although I *do* love this picture of Fez Boy in "Morocco".

    I can’t express how happy I am to be home.

    In other news, school starts this week, and Ted is thrilled with the prospect of third grade. I’m pleased to be starting back too, especially since one of my classes is Resources for Children. The reading list ranges from Mother Goose to Harry Potter, and I’m thrilled. I just read The Giver and am about half way through Because of Winn-Dixie. I have to get through these quickly since they’re for class, but I’m happy to have more books to share with Ted. Hooray for school!

    Saturday, August 27, 2005

    Wah hoo hey, I’m combing my hair today/It's our tradition to control, like Erich Honecker and Helmut Kohl…

    The Wiggles are in town today for two shows. I drove by the arena this morning (it IS on the way to work - it IS! I swear!) hoping for a glimpse of any one of them (although Anthony is the preferred one). Alas, they were not strolling down to the 7-11 for coffee, or to the mini-mart for Krispy Kremes. Damn those Wiggles, and that silly dinosaur they hang around with, too! (My next door neighbor is taking her kids, but I decided against taking the boys. Let’s face it, Jude’s two, he wouldn’t even remember it. And no idea how much tix are, but if they even approach twenty bucks – and I am sure they do - no point. And I would have had to take the day off.)


    This, then this.


    I bought Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action Wednesday and started reading it last night. I almost always have two books going at once and at this point in my pregnancy, it’s almost required because I can’t go trucking upstairs to retrieve a book to read. So one on each floor is useful : ) At any rate, it’s a nonfiction book about an environmental law case involving children with leukemia and big bad industry. It was made into a movie starring John Travolta, and featuring an excellent cast (2 years before “Erin Brockovich” made such a splash with the environment/lawyer theme). The book is good. It reads like fiction – kind of the way World War 3.0 and In Cold Blood read – fast-paced, good character development, driving plot, but then you realize it’s all true. Which makes it even more interesting. I can’t quite see Travolta as Jan Schlictmann, but I could probably get past that.


    Tootsie Rolls are the new crack. (Or the new black....whatever.)


    From’s The Fix: Coldplay singer Chris Martin, whose wife Gwyneth Paltrow once dated Brad Pitt, on trying to be cool: "Being voted the world's sexiest vegetarian is about as cool as it gets. It's not quite as cool as Brad Pitt, but it'll do. Those have been the two biggest challenges of my life: trying to follow Radiohead, and trying to follow Brad Pitt."
    Oh honey, you can’t even approach Thom Yorke, even if you are married to Gwyneth and named your child Apple, so just give it up now. (That last sentence reminds me disturbingly of Hedwig. Which I have been listening to in my car obsessively for the past week. Come on, Sugar Daddy, bring it home!

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    swoon...finally one of these ridiculous quizzes got it right...Catherine Earnshaw indeed! Huh.

    With Which Harry Potter Male Are You Most Sexually Compatible?

    brought to you by Quizilla

    Turn yight on, Dyman. Turn yight on, Dyman. Turn yight on, Dyman. Turn yight on, Dyman. Turn yight on, Dyman.

    Happy dance, happy dance! Gina's home from Disney hell...ummm...I, that's pretty much what I meant.

    I missed you, and I am glad you survived. You didn't go and get a Mickey tat or anything crazy, did you?


    See this article on Salon about digitizing libraries, and then go read Nicholson Baker’s Doublefold. Baker may be a bit of an extremist but I am mostly with him. (See this review of Doublefold which I had to write for a library school class, if you like.)


    Suffice it to say at the moment that this quote from Anneli Rufus’ excerpt from her book The Farewell Chronicles [How we really respond to death] hit the proverbial nail smackdab on the head: What you did not expect, and what Hallmark never hints about, is all those other ways you feel when people die. Weird, messy, nasty, sticky, scary feelings that slop over the rim of sorrow, or poison it, or take its place. Hooboy. Sometimes that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you read something so completely true?…got it.


    I was doing some research on cited reference searching at work last night and came across a discussion of Picasso's “Guernica.” It reminded me of two insipid things which I will share with you for no particular reason whatsoever, other than my boys have done nothing wildly amusing in the past twelve hours, and Corelli’s Mandolin is all right but not riveting.
    1) On “Ally McBeal,” which I shamefacedly confess to loving for the first few seasons, there was an ancient judge who referred to Picasso as “Pick-a-sew.” He just loved “old Pick-a-sew’s paintings.” At the time I thought it was funny.

    2) I remember reading somewhere once that you should not hang prints of “Guernica” in the bedroom as it was very likely to disturb your sleep. Apparently the painting was a hot one for college dorm rooms and yuppie apartments for a while. Perhaps then the would-be art appreciators looked up the history of the subject of the painting and what Picasso was trying to say and do with his work. Even without knowing these facts, I was never tempted by the painting; I’ve never been a Picasso fan.

    My tastes tend to run towards more illustrator/painterly types like Maxfield Parrish. (I do have several Parrish prints hanging throughout my house, and one in the bedroom. His use of light is exquisite, and very restful.) In fact, other than the Annenberg collection tour, a retrospective of Parrish’s work is the only art show I have deliberately travelled to a museum to see. I drove to Philly to see the show and dragged my long-suffering brothers throughout the whole museum. They were very bored. But considering the alternative was hanging out in the hospital room with my dying mother, I understand why Parrish won, even for a few hours.

    ****************** SOOO can *not* get my shit together this morning. This will perk me up: I call it "Carrie Donovan meets Jiminy Glick."

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    admin - FYI

    Guys - I can't remove spam comments due to my computer's limitations with cookies; have to wait for Gina to get back for that. But I have instituted the word recognition feature of comments; I know it takes an few extra seconds but we have been getting hit with spam pretty badly. Thanks.


    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    Harry Potters and the Mud Pit of Azkaban

    With fronds like these, who needs anemones?

    I went to Half Price Books this morning. On Wednesdays the boys are in daycare and I am meant to be working on the house. Today, however, I needed to go buy the sequel to The Sparrow so I had it to take on vacation. Not only did I find the sequel, but I bought a copy of The Sparrow for two bucks. I also scored The Rule of Four; I’ve heard a lot about this and for three dollars, I was willing to take a flyer on it. My little brother liked it well enough, and he’s one of the smartest people I know, so…it’ll probably go on vacation with me. Hmmm, what else, what else? I bought Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action. Why? Other than the fact that it was 2 bucks and I vaguely remember someone saying it was good, no good reason. To add to my shark lit collection, I picked up Richard Fernicola’s Twelve Days of Terror; I think it came out the same summer as Close to Shore, it tells the same story, so I thought it should be in the collection. I got an Anne Roiphe called Married: A Fine Predicament and I really don’t know why because her books pretty much bore me. But I am navel-gazing a lot lately (kinda hard to miss, sticking out like that and all), especially about the state of my marriage and the impending baby, so maybe I thought it could offer some insight. In the travel section I found Off the Rails in Phnom Penh: Into the Dark Heart of Guns, Girls, and Ganja. The author, Amit Gilboa, is the older brother of the husband (whom I like very much) of an old and dear friend, and I’ve met Amit, so what the heck, I’ll read it. Maybe I’ll even ask him to sign it, if I like it : )
    Lastly (for me) I got a food book I’ve been keeping an eye out for, American Pie: Slices of life (and pie) from America’s back roads by Pascale Le Draoulec. Pie is one of my favorite foods, and no, it pretty much doesn’t matter what flavor. I don’t know if I have ever met a piece of homemade pie that I did not like. Pie for me is sorta like that old aphorism about pizza and sex: When it’s good, it’s very very good, and even when it’s bad, it’s still ok.

    I did discover at the bookstore that I picked up many books and said, “Ooooh, that looks interesting,” only to realize that I already own it. So maybe I should just go shopping in my own library next time?

    I picked up some clearance books for my boys: Richard Scarry’s Mother Goose, the first in the Magic Treehouse series, which I think Si will be ready for within the year; an anthology volume of Frog and Toad, and another Arnold Lobel, Owl at Home. I kid myself that it’s the beginning of my Christmas shopping, but I’ll probably cave way before December.



    None of Salon’s summer reads strike my fancy except possibly Philippa Stockley’s A Factory of Cunning.

    This book, Hunger’s Brides, looks interesting. And heavy. (Speaking of heavy, I once tried to read Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy but lugging it around proved too much for me.)

    The Atlantic is moving. No, not the ocean, the magazine. And I am with Jessa Crispin of Bookslut on this one: if they lose William Langewiesche (along with reportedly 90% of the rest of the staff), they are losing me.

    My soapbox (ahem):
    Pat Robertson is an idiot. Even if he backtracked and apologized. He’s still a huge moron. Our fundamentalists can be just as dangerous in their way as the Islamic extremists. And just because they *think* God is on their side does not make it true.


    There’s an article in this week’s Newsweek about making children’s books “more interactive.” Hello? Am I missing something? Books are fairly interactive already, I think. But what do I know? I just have to listen to endless re-tellings of stories I’ve read to the boys; all about the new characters the boys have created to go into the stories (Bob the Builder now has a trash truck named Stinky); all the new stories they’ve made up to go with their favorite characters (Pooh is a big favorite here); and never-ending requests to define or explain words and terms they encounter in their books. As far as I am concerned, a normal book is exponentially more interactive than even the most “interactive” video or TV show. Or even a book with a sound chip or accompanying DVD. Although I do admit to buying those books that come with the story on tape; my guys really enjoy hearing another person read to them occasionally and it takes a bit of pressure off me. There are many activities I refuse occasionally to do without a single qualm (how many games of Monopoly Junior can *you* play?), but Si and Jude know they can almost always guilt me into reading to them, no matter how busy or engrossed I am in something else.


    RockStar INXS update. Dan will get home from band practice and discover that his wife is a moron: I could not get the VCR channel to change to CBS, so I think I recorded the ballroom dancing show on Fox instead. Oops. How a computer engineer and a librarian cannot figure out how to tape one program a week, I do not know and am sad and embarrassed to admit. I probably should’ve just asked Simon to set it up. Dan will have to say, “I’m sorry, you’re just not right for my family.” It’s not as catchy as “You’re fired!” but it seems to work for INXS.

    Now having said that, Jordis sucked big time last night and still managed to avoid the bottom three. She’s still charmed. JD was the only one I voted for; he’s a jerk but he’d be a great INXS frontman. He’s also the only one who even approaches any sort of sex appeal. Ty BORED me, as usual, and I love that eventually, they finally admitted that he “cowrote” Deanna’s song. Marty did a good impression of Tim Burton meets Kurt Cobain, with a dash of David Bowie thrown in. The size of the man’s mouth and teeth continue to astound me. Suzie’s cute and all but she’s not going to make the cut. And thank heavens Swiss Miss is gone, back to her geriatric nursing home, one presumes. Thank God. I couldn’t watch her saggy boobs and wrinkled brow one more week.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    Okay, class. Optical orbits up front, and remember, we keep our subesophageal ganglia to ourselves.

    Governments keep war hidden because it is hideous. To allow citizens to see its reality -- the shattered bodies, the wounded children, the incomprehensible mayhem -- is to risk eroding popular support for it. - Gary Kamiya on

    I did not want to look at this photo gallery now, at work. I know I will cry, and I also don’t want to offend or upset anyone who might be watching or walking behind my computer. But I think it’s important that we Americans know the true toll and devastation of this war, just as I thought it was important that we not be too shielded from the true horror of September 11’s events. We cannot make our decisions for our political stances and lifestyle choices without facing up to the consequences of said decisions, and the events those actions may inspire or cause. You can’t – or at least shouldn’t - be antiwar without knowing why, and conversely, you can not - or should not - be pro-war without being fully cognizant of what the war entails for our soldiers/our citizens.


    Myla Goldberg (Bee Season) has a new book out; it’s called Wickett’s Remedy. Bee Season (NOT to be confused with The Secret Life of Bees) was an uneven but ultimately engaging book, with a surprising ending. Her character of Eliza Naumann is awkward and average - and at times thoroughly unlikeable - but eventually inspires intense empathy and probably makes every mother feel as if she just wants to protect the poor girl, from herself and her bonkers family. I’m not all that nuts about the whole Irish theme of the new book, but I’ll read it.


    Go, Mark Kurlansky! And in that same vein, maybe the British are NOT inherently smarter than we are… Although I am far more likely and willing to believe that the British MPs are reading Dan Brown than I am that George Bush is reading social and/or Russian history.


    I am considering buying this book for my Republican, capitalist little brother…or at least for his new child. Since I know the boy won’t be reading the Commie-leaning Rainbow Fish anytime soon.


    The Crimson Petal and the White is all right but it’s just not grabbing me. So I started (for the umpteenth time) Captain Corelli’s Mandolin; this time it might stick, as I am enjoying it except for the boring The Duce sections, but I guess the political machinations are part of what fuels the novel’s plot. We shall see.


    A couple books that have crossed my radar, that I want to look into: Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks. I think I mentioned this a few months ago, and worried it was likened to The French Lieutenant’s Woman. But it looks worthy of checking into. I was also interested to discover that Faulks wrote On Green Dolphin Street. Anna Quindlen mentions OGDS as one of the books that her mother read over and over again; Quindlen’s book of this sort was The Forsyte Saga. I am always curious about other people’s “comfort” books.

    And for Gina : ), Not a Games Person – Julie Myerson. For some reason, this looks like a book you might dig, Gina.


    Yesterday was the first day of classes for the fall semester. The library is considerably busier than it’s been since I started here. And I have only one thing to say: how on earth did some of these students even manage to get INTO college? Good Lord.


    On the way to daycare this morning, we saw a little grey dead cat in the middle of the other side of the road. With my boys in the car, I hesitated to pull over and move the cat out of the road, but I did call Animal Control so the poor thing wouldn’t keep getting run over. Simon of course heard the whole conversation and proceeded to query me about the cat.

    Si: Do cats get run over a lot?
    Me: Well, no, not especially, but that one did.
    Si: What about mouses?
    Me: Um, sure. They’re small but probably sometimes…
    Si: Chipmunks?
    Me: Um, sure. Although they’re pretty small and fast too.
    Si: Badgers?
    Me: Um, I’d say no on that one, Si.
    A few moments of silence while he considers, and then,
    Si (joyfully and triumphantly): Well, I KNOW *people* can get run over!

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

    My little brother is…gack…THIRTY-TWO today. How can he be that old? That makes me ancient! Happy birthday, Drew (not that anyone in my family has this blog URL).


    At Nadav’s birthday party yesterday morning, Jude wanted to go down into the yard to play, but to do so, he had to pass the dog enclosure. He came back up, planted himself in my lap, and said, “Dogs eat me, no!” Whereupon Deb’s dad pointed out that as they were Jewish dogs, they wouldn’t eat him because he was trayf. Jude didn’t much benefit but I thought it was hilarious.


    Often I feel very out of place at Deb’s parties because usually I am 1) the only non-physician, and while I am very satisfied with my librarian career, it can be a bit intimidating, and I often feel dismissed (most likely just a product of my natural inferiority complex, not a comment on Deb’s friends) and 2) I am often the only Gentile, and since I don’t speak Hebrew I feel that much more out of the loop. Deb and I have been friends forever and she knows things about me I hope she never reveals, and I adore Deb and her husband -- but it can be weird. Yesterday was the exception, maybe it’s because her family and other friends are starting to know me. Noam’s mom was so sweet, and I must say, I have MIL envy. I know everyone has their own issues with their in-laws and I would not presume to understand or get in the middle, but all other things being equal, I wonder if Arlyn would adopt me? I understand that much of my MIL longing is caused by the fact that my mom is gone and has been for years, but I do seem to wistfully wish to be adopted by various other moms an awful lot. My brother’s MIL is a gem and while she’s fond enough of me, I suppose, she does have five children of her own. Alas, Arlyn has three children of her own and very nice grandchildren to boot. The only one I would have hope to love me the way my mom did would be my MIL and it’s obvious after ten years of marriage that that will never be the case. Despite the fact that my MIL has a heart of mostly gold, she and I are simply not simpatico. And I do want to be loved like someone’s daughter, and that just doesn’t happen when these wonderful women have wonderful kids of their own, you know? I might be loved but not the way my poor little orphaned soul desires : ) Anyhoo, enough pathetic-ness.

    I had a lovely conversation about books with Arlyn, and Deb’s dad and stepmom. Arlyn has read The Sparrow and I was so excited to have someone to discuss it with! She had even met the author while in Seattle a few years ago and she confirmed my thoughts that Mary Doria Russell seems to be a very down-to-earth and interesting, intelligent woman. I do love talking books. What a great morning.

    The other bonus is that Deb’s is the only place I ever get to eat all the smoked salmon I want. Bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, and red onions – another perfect breakfast, topped off with hot coffee and delicious chocolate cake from Whole Foods.


    David and Marisa’s party was lovely. The chocolate fondue was quite the hit and I think I ate all their pineapple. And I love the new dining room set, it’s gorgeous. I meet the funniest and strangest people at their house, too – it’s nice to ease back into that theatre culture for an evening. No one looks at me twice if I swear a lot, and I forget how blunt and vulgar theatre people can be after my daily sojourn among academic librarians. I miss it sometimes.

    I think I should probably tone down the mostly-pseudo ex-professor bitterness around David’s university colleagues however; it’s a good riff but I think some of them took me seriously. I had one prof who I hated (and trust me, the feeling was sooooo mutual). But that was fifteen years ago, and now it’s just amusing. I don’t want anyone thinking I actually even still care (although at the time, I did, desperately), so the Cletus riff has to go, alas. But really, what sort of grown man in a position of authority tells a twenty-one-year-old that she has the emotions of a fence post, and that the only reason she’s graduating is because they don’t want her around next year? (Note: for my own pride, I must point out that I graduated with college and university honors, and a 3.5 GPA. So it was *not* my grades.) OK, maybe it still bothers me a little; what can I say, I was scarred : )


    I am lining up vacation books. I will be away a week, so I need to bring at least five. Here’s what I am considering at the moment (bold ones are definites):

    Vanity Fair - Thackeray
    In Harm’s Way – Douglas Stanton (I *know* what I said about shark books at the shore…)
    The Game – Laurie King
    Son of the Circus – John Irving
    Green Darkness
    Children of God

    Whatever magazine issues I get in the mail the week before we leave

    I just started Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White so if I am still working on that, that will go too.

    It’s the BabelBabe Fresh Air Fund for Books.


    Gina, I miss you.
    We’re thinking of you, see?

    And maybe you'll find a nice man while you're there (although I think you'd hesitate to date any single man who was at Disney...)


    My new life motto:
    Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? - Henry Ward Beecher

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    Humans are the only animals that have children on purpose with the exception of guppies, who like to eat theirs.

    I love Anne Fadiman. Her two equally engrossing and completely different books, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down are books I had to own and will not give away or lend out. So I am keeping an eye out for the forthcoming collection of essays she edited, Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love.


    I was browsing around the library catalog in the Zs (Books (general). Writing. Paleography. Book industries and trade. Libraries. Bibliography.) and came across some interesting titles. They made me think of Simon, who was recently reading a birthday card someone had sent me. He had no trouble with the joke, printed as it was in capital letters. But then he squinted and frowned and said, "Mom, I can't read the fancy stuff." The "fancy stuff" would be the signature, in cursive. Remember before you could read or write cursive handwriting? I do. I
    remember feeling like I had cracked the grown-up code of the ages when I could finally read cursive handwriting. But it's been so long since I couldn't that his confusion took me by surprise.

    Also in that section I ran across a couple books that reminded me of Simon Singh's The Code Book which I read on vacation one year. I don't do a whole lot of non-fiction but I enjoyed this book very much. And I felt so much smarter when I finished it : )


    In the Acknowledgements of The Sparrow Mary Doria Russell says, "Dorothy Dunnett may consider The Sparrow one long thank-you note for her splendid Lymond series." So of course I had to check out the Lymond series. The Game of Kings is the first, and I will read it sometime, but it is way too similar in setting to Outlander for me to want to tackle it now.

    Also, in the Reader's Notes section, which I never look at normally because I think book group guides are smarmy and bogus, I read Russell's bio. Before venturing into fiction, Russell wrote "technical manuals for medical equipment like ... magnetic resonance scanners". Hey, guess what? So did I! Before I too got "fed up with academia and quit" to become...a librarian? Well, you certainly didn't think I was going to write an award-winning novel, did you? And she lives in Cleveland! Do you think if I asked her to lunch, she'd go? I'd *love* to meet her. She seems like such a cosmopolitan person.


    This is wicked cool.

    Sarah Louise, forgive me. But even if they are a bit over the top, number four nails it. Bergdorf Blondes was *beyond* unreadable.

    Saturday, August 20, 2005

    It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them! - Friedrich Nietzche

    From Salon’s poetry contest; I think I love this woman:

    My hair is gray upon my head
    (for that is where it grows)
    and yet, the TV surgeon said,
    I still could fix my nose,
    Botox the wrinkles from my brow
    and plump my thinning lips
    (both on my face and down below)
    and lipo tum and hips.
    'Twould send my self-esteem sky high,
    he said, to have this look.
    I cut myself a piece of pie
    and went back to my book.

    - Katha Pollitt, New York, N.Y.


    10 years ago: August 1995. Dan and I had been married for 6 months. Still no bloodshed. We were looking for houses.

    5 years ago: August 2000. 5 months pregnant with Simon. Just back from a vacation at the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

    1 year ago: August 2004. God knows. My short-term memory is shot to hell. Best as I can recall, just back from a long weekend in SH with Liane and her boy; preparing for another SH vacation in September.

    Yesterday: Children’s museum with boys and friend and her daughter. Lunch there. Nap in afternoon. Clambake/birthday surprise party for Dan’s cousin in evening. (I ate three dozen clams. Disgraceful!)

    Today: Grocery shopping at 7, hang out with the boys and be silly for a while, work 10 till 6. Go home, have leftovers for dinner. Maybe watch a movie. Go to bed early.

    Tomorrow: Birthday party for Nadav in morning, David and Marisa’s in evening. Schlump around with the boys in between. Maybe plant some cheap, half-dead plants I bought at Home Depot a week ago.

    5 snacks I enjoy: Tomatoes sliced up on crackers with salt and cheese; Goldenberg Peanut Chews; Jif pb on Ritz crackers; sharp cheddar and pretzels; cheese

    5 bands/singers that I know the lyrics of MOST of their songs: Dar Williams, Chris Smither, Rusted Root, Bruce Springsteen, the Wiggles

    Things I would do with $100,000,000: Invest for retirement, hire a contractor to fix/replace windows on our ancient falling-down house, put away cash for boys’ school. Buy Dan a Prius. Give away, to relatives, charity, etc. Especially to my new nephew, because my brother has been so generous with my boys, it’d be a joy to give him a wad o’ cash. .

    5 locations I'd like to run away to: the shore (preferably SH); Antigua; Paris; Florence; Prague

    5 bad habits I have: nail biting; short temper; not shaving my legs; obsessive email checking; yelling

    5 things I like doing: blogging, reading, running, quilting, baking

    5 things I would never wear: appliqué; sequins; ruffles; Disney characterized clothing; pleated pants

    5 TV shows I like: ER; Family Guy; Curb Your Enthusiasm; Rock Star INXS; C-SPAN’s broadcasts of British parliament

    5 movies I like: Moonstruck, Love Actually, The Wedding Singer, 101 Dalmatians, The Godfather

    5 famous people I'd like to meet: John Cusack; Colin Firth; Jane Austen; Barbara Kingsolver; Laura Bush

    5 biggest joys at the moment: Jude, Simon, my/Gina’s blog, anticipating my vacation, anticipating not being pregnant anymore!

    5 favorite toys: my food processor, my new mitre box, the new ceiling fan remote, sewing machine, CD burner on my computer

    5 bloggers tagged (if they made it this far & if you feel like it): Carolyn, Badger, Sara Louise, Katya, Gina


    The boys and I went to the Children’s Museum yesterday, mostly because I can set them loose in the third-floor water area and sit on one of those groovy surfboard benches and rest for an hour or so. And because I can set them loose in the Mr Rogers’ exhibit and I can sit on the comfy plaid couch for an hour and monitor them from there. And because it’s air-conditioned and the zoo decidedly is not. The last thing they wanted to do before we left for home was climb the Habitrail-like apparatus on the ground floor. It’s similar to all those climbing thingeys at McDonald’s Playlands across America, and it makes me intensely claustrophobic just thinking about getting into it. (Which I have had to do once or twice in the past when Si got stuck.) Judeman climbed up and down the entire two-story structure twice, only needing help with a butt-boost from an older kid once. Simon got two-thirds of the way up and panicked. His feet were dangling off the platform above, he was two inches from the bottom platform he needed to land on, and he would *not* drop. I sent his little friend Sarah up to help him but he wouldn’t release his death clutch on the wire surrounding the climbing things. Repeated injunctions for Sarah to “just give his legs a good yank” did not endear me to the parenting gods, I am sure. God help me, I sent his little brother up to help him but Jude wasn’t interested – maybe he hoped if he left Si in there we’d get to just leave him there for good? After twenty minutes of cajoling, explaining, offering other kids’ help, I finally just snapped, “Simon, I CANNOT fit in there so you have to figure out how to get out yourself,” and went to sit down on the bench at the end of the hall. Crying, whining, and lots of bleating “Mama….Mmmmaaammmmaaaaaa”s ensued. Eventually I yelled at him to let Sarah help him down, to let go of the cage, and over and over again, “I cannot go in there to help you, Si. I simply will not fit!” How did I go, in twenty short minutes, from being cool mama who takes her kids somewhere fun and lets them run around to shrieking shrew of a mama who is clearly humongous with child, having to yell for the entire population of the Children’s Museum that I am TOO FAT to fit in the Habitrail?! Life is so not fair. I was angry because I couldn’t go in to get him; I was angry because not one single employee offered to help me; I was angry because Si really was perfectly capable of getting out of the damn thing himself, it was at that point a power-struggle to get ME to come help him. I was really angry because I had to pee and instead had to stand there and argue with my stubborn four-year-old. Finally an older child physically lifted Si off the platform and dropped him onto the next one and chivvied him the rest of the way down. Darling gap-toothed eight-year-old boy who was there with your grandma, I will be forever grateful.


    I am almost done The Sparrow (and am gratified to learn that there is a sequel, which will most definitely be accompanying me on my trip to the shore later this month). In many ways the writing style and references to God and theology remind me of Madeleine L’Engle’s books. The same air of tentativeness and exploration of spirituality are there. The structure of The Sparrow is intricate, and can be confusing, told as it is in large chunks of flashbacks with intertwining plotlines. The plot doesn’t emerge in surprises, but as slowly- and naturally-unfolding revelations of events and knowledge. The main character, Father Emilio Sandoz, is enigmatic, romantic, and sympathetic. The tension and interaction among the other characters is meaningful and nicely drawn, and like most “scholarly” novels, background information (this novel utilizes everything from Biblical stories to Mel brooks films) is essential to grasping all the nuances of the plot and characterization. The Sparrow is a beautiful and haunting book essentially about one man’s quest for God.


    Gina is, poor soul, in Disney World for the next five days with her son and parents. My thoughts are with you, Gina : )

    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    A Fat Girl Book I Can Sink My Teeth Into

    I just this afternoon picked up I'm Not the New Me at the library. I can't remember where I got the recommendation for this, but if you look at the link and look closely at the cover, you will see those pics from those 70s Weight Watcher's recipe cards Val found! Imagine my surprise when I figured out why they looked so familiar!

    I've only read a few pages, as I'm now back at work, but so far, so good.

    Accustomed to the veneer of noise, to the shibboleths of promotion, PR, & market research, society is suspicious of those who value silence.

    OK here it is noon, and I feel like I am holding it together pretty well today, for me, considering the following (again taking into consideration the source…):

    I woke up this morning with Jude in my bed (feet in my face) and Si sleeping on my floor. WTF? Would it be just wrong to lock my bedroom door?

    The duplex next door to us is for sale. The owner had a good offer on it but during the inspection they found a rusted support beam. The buyer withdrew his offer. We were seriously bummed, as the ideal situation (for us the neighbors) would be to have the owner living in one side while renting the other, which was the buyer-to-be’s plan. So the owner, instead of funneling a ton of cash into fixing the real problem, the deal-breaking problem, is apparently fixing that by propping it up and instead spending thousands on landscaping. Yessirree, who cares if your house is falling down if you have green grass and pretty shrubs? The guys who are doing the work have been running the chainsaw and rototiller nonstop since eight this morning. I am going nuts. My Zoloft dose is just not high enough to cope with this constant assault on my ears.

    We went to story time at the local library today. I find their children’s librarian a tad cloying and patronizing, but the kids seem to like her and I give her credit just for being a children’s librarian. (There’s good reason why I actively sought out collegiate surroundings for my library career…) At any rate we read a few stories, sang a few songs – well, “we” might be a misstatement. All the other children did this. My boys stubbornly sat on the floor while the others shook their sillies out, yawned their sleepies out, clapped their crazies out (I wonder if that would work for me?). Simon threw a fit during the Marching Around the Alphabet song and sulked in a chair while the rest of us pointed out letters and marched in circles. I don’t really know why I care – Si was actively participating in the story reading and question-and-answers; he just didn’t want to dance and sing. (And really, who does?) But I felt very self-conscious that my kids were the only ones not participating – and it made me feel like I had to haul my ass up off the floor where I was very comfortable, thank you very much, and participate, to try to convince them to do so. Otherwise I’d happily have sat and read my book. But noooooo…..

    We picked up yet more library books – mostly Arthur Lobel, Mouse Soup in particular. At the visit to the ped yesterday, Si discovered this book and fell in love. He tried to convince me to go to the bookstore to buy it, “so I can have it forever,” but I held him off for a library copy. I have to have something to buy the kid for Christmas, for Pete’s sake. I also tried to find Kage Baker’s In the Garden of Iden but the library copy appears to have disappeared.

    I am a third of the way through The Sparrow and I like it. It’s sci-fi without being so sci-fi as to be off-putting; the characters are intriguing, the plot is curious, and I like the set-up of the timeline of the book. (David, I think you would really enjoy it. If my opinion changes after I finish it, I’ll let you know. )

    We had to go to the ped because Si’s, ahem, member hurts. I think it is due to all the pulling and tugging the thing’s undergoing lately, but Dan was worrying and once again second-guessing the circumcision decision, so I obligingly hauled him (Si, not Dan) off to the doc. (Although that second option appeals for many reasons as well.) Fret not, everything is fine. Trying to get a four-year-old to give a decent urine specimen might just have been the highlight of my day. The ped’s diagnosis, and I quote: it “could be sore due to all the yanking around.” I do the best I can but how many times a day do I really have to repeat, “Si, get your hands out of your pants.” It’s replaced boogey-mining as the favored hand activity. Last winter Dan worried himself sick about the chin-licking (don’t ask); this summer it’s penis-pulling and nose-picking. We would definitely have a gold medal contender in the Disgusting Bodily Habits Olympics, were such a thing to exist.

    I feel as if I should comment on Rock Star INXS, but with the only singer left that I simply hate being Swiss Miss, what’s the point? Who wants to comment if you can’t be snarky? Although I will say this: she appears older every week. That saggy-boobed dress on Tuesday clinched the age thing for me: she’s got to be close to fifty by now.

    “… in which barely clad models dry-hump near a commode while rolls of toilet paper look on, unmoved, as though they’ve seen it all.”

    That may be the best sentence fragment I have ever read. Have a look at this luxury toilet paper, which hasn’t yet made a move to the US. I’m as much a sucker for little luxuries as the next girl, but I’m not at all tempted by this—and I care a great deal about bathroom comfort.

    I saw monogrammed toilet paper in a catalogue of overpriced home accents once, and thought of how mob families might enjoy wiping their asses with paper featuring their enemies’ initials scrawled in gold, but who else would want that? And what company would want that? Why would Louis Vuitton create something that invites people to smear fecal matter on their logo?

    I just don’t get it.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Yankee Pot Roast

    I used to read YPR every day, and then I forgot all about it. Thanks to Bookslut for the link.

    PS--Is this aimed specifically at Richard Russo's Empire Falls, do you think?

    The sensible thing is to fight for your own boondoggle

    I’m not a huge Garrison Keillor fan, but no one should miss this, which I’m excerpting from his article on Salon today:

    I belong to an enormous special-interest group that, unlike Alaskans or hobby pilots, has never exercised much clout, and that is the English-major community. For us, the equivalent of the Gravina Island bridge is the public library equipped with leather sofas and an espresso bar and librarians who are trained in pressure-point massage. Greek columns would be nice, and a pair of stone lions, and a rare book collection and a three-story lobby with marble floors so your footsteps echo as if you were in an Edith Wharton novel. And a statue of Minerva.

    I imagine that a super-library of that caliber might cost $223 million if you add in the books, the banks of computers with high-speed Internet connections, the movie theater, the Children's Room, the Steam Room, the Nap Room, the Hobnob Room where English majors can gather for a libation, the underground parking garage, and the kindly reference librarian with the bun, the faint mustache on the upper lip, the navy-blue knit dress, the sensible shoes, and the glasses on a chain around her neck. Those ladies have become rare and do not come cheap.

    We English majors need a mouthpiece in Congress of the caliber of Rep. Don Young of Alaska. And we need to promote public libraries as a tool in the war against terror. How many readers of Edith Wharton have engaged in terroristic acts? I challenge you to name one. Therefore, the reading of Edith Wharton is a proven deterrent to terror. Do we need to wait until our cities lie in smoking ruins before we wake up to the fact that a first-class public library is a vital link in national defense?

    Which side is your congressman on? If we English majors would make our voices heard and flood Congress with angry sonnets, we would get a major library bill passed. I hope that Minnesota will get the first $223 million library, but if Ketchikan wants one too, fine.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    Hand-held infants are not permitted on most rides.

    We took our out-of-town guests to Kennywood Park yesterday. Kennywood is an old-time amusement park, with several wooden roller coasters, famous Potato Patch fries, and enough new and high-tech rides to balance everything out. There are lots and lots of lovely old trees, comfy benches, tons of cheesy games, and an old train that runs around slowly the park’s perimeter. There’s something for everyone, even very pregnant people like me.

    This was the first time I was there with my boys being old enough to ride things; Kiddieland was a huge hit. They rode just about everything there, except the mini-Pitfall. Jude was actually on it waiting for it to start before he panicked and demanded to be let off. Otherwise, Jude appears to be fearless. He did ride the Lil Phantom, which Si would not go near. In addition, every time the big-people Thunderbolt roller coaster rattled past us down its hills as we ate dinner, Jude looked at me and said solemnly, “Mama, me like THAT.” However, since he’s barely three feet tall, he was not allowed to ride it : ) I think they liked the Kiddie Whip the best – they both laughed and laughed through each ride. Jude even mastered the waving-your-hands-in-the-air move as you caroom around the ends. Simon rode two big-people rides – his second time on the Log Jammer (we have the photo magnet to prove it!) and the real Whip, which he wanted to ride over and over again.

    There was a fairly mediocre magic show that freaked Si out; he was frightened, I think, that the man changed his assistant into a dog and then she disappeared. He anxiously asked me, “No one really got hurt, did they? I mean, it’s not REAL magic, like in Harry Potter?” And Jude and I caught an acrobatic show that my little guy just totally dug – he was jumping and dancing to the music and clapping. (If he and Si start trying to figure out how to build a human pyramid, we’re going to have real trouble. Especially if they involve the cats…)

    We had not been in the park ten minutes when a woman approached me with her hands full of stuffed animals. Behind her were several teenaged boys also laden with various cheap stuffed animal prizes. She said, “Would your boys like these? As you can see, we have more than enough…” Simon claimed the orange Nemo-ey fish, and Jude picked the blue, glittery one, and they hauled those little fishies all over the park. Jude even made sure the fish was well-hydrated by sharing his water with it. I could not say thanks enough, because, man, did that take the pressure off us! None of the adults had to try to win prizes for them all day; it was already taken care of. What a sweet relief ; ) The boys slept with the critters last night, too.

    Last night I asked the boys what their favorite part was. Simon liked the big Whip the best; Jude replied, “Scoop.” Scoop? Huh? The park is building a new ride and the construction site was full of bulldozers and backhoes. We spent about fifteen minutes after dinner just gazing at the machinery (no, it wasn’t moving, just sitting there). And the backhoe – Scoop – was Judeman’s favorite part.

    At first I was worried about walking around the park all day due to the disgusting heat and humidity we have had here for the summer, but yesterday was blessedly cooler, and overcast. Perfect weather. Everyone else went out after lunch; I stayed home with Jude until he woke up from his nap at 430 and we drove out then and met the others. I certainly did feel it later that night, after hauling my ginormous belly all over the park, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. And then I realized that as a pregnant person, I was not expected – indeed was not allowed – to go on any rides, so could safely eat whatever I wanted without fear of it coming back up on some roller coaster. So I had my once-yearly corn dog with mustard and Potato Patch fries, and I still have half a bag of cotton candy in my car.

    This was the first time I had been there with little kids. The employees, especially in Kiddieland, were terrific. They were all sweet and very patient, but several of them went out of their way to do little things that were unnecessary but made the experience more fun for my kids. There was the young woman manning the Kiddie whip who was holding out her hand for all the little ones to high-five as they went past her; there were the two young people running the helicopters who patiently helped my boys out of the “wrong-colored” helicopter and into the “right-colored” one without hurrying them or being short with them; there was the young man who ran the motorcycles just for my two boys, making the cycles bump gently up and down (over his FOOT!) and sending my boys into fits of giggles every time around the circle. I was so impressed by the great attitudes and demeanor of these (mostly) teenagers that I felt compelled to write a letter to the park this morning commending them on their wonderful employees. I figure if I am so quick to scribble off letters about things that piss me off – and God knows I am - I should be just as quick to scribble off notes of appreciation.


    So our guests left this morning, and I was sad to see them go. Some because they’re just great people, and some because, since I thought they were staying till Thursday, I have enough food in the house to feed a small army.

    Our next-door neighbors are back from their camping vacation (four children ages 1-7, two adults, and one bat, in a cabin -- God bless them). They brought us tomatoes and peaches and I love them even more than I did before. My idea of the perfect summer breakfast: tomato sliced up on top of club crackers and American cheese, sprinkled liberally with salt, and accompanied by an ice cold Coke. Mmmm. I am also working towards my goal of eating my weight in cantaloupe this summer. Admirable, yes?

    Speaking of food, I have gained, total, eight pounds. NOW my doctor wants me to gain more weight; before I was admonished to keep it to fifteen pounds. Humph. She recommended Ensure – yech. I think I’ll pass. The baby is growing just fine, apparently it’s just me that’s not fat enough! Coulda fooled me.

    El bambino is still lying sideways. Flip, baby, flip!



    If this were true of you, would you admit it?

    This auction amuses me.

    You too can report a dead bird online!

    Why is it so nice being awake in the middle of the night? Why do I like being up at 4am when everyone else is asleep? Am I truly that anti-social?

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    “…for those of us who lived through these events..."

    the only marker we’ll ever need is the tick of a clock at the 46th minute of the eighth hour of the 11th day." - George W. Bush, President of the United States.


    I have been looking at pictures and reading transcripts from September 11. The New York Times sued the city of New York to have records made public, and CNN has pretty in-depth coverage. What shakes me up all over again, what makes me remember the horror of that day, my own personal little bit of hell that day, is that in every single shot of the towers – before, during, and after the day – you can clearly see the building where my brother worked, 3 World Financial Center.

    I was at work that morning, working on some manual for MRI software. I remember one of the company’s owners sending out a company-wide email saying that one of the towers had been hit with an airplane. At that point we all thought it was an accident – a pilot having a heart attack or something like that. Tragic but not terrifying. Within minutes we heard about the second plane and slowly it dawned on us that this was no accident. Someone ran home and brought back their TV and set it up in the reception area.

    I knew my brother worked in Manhattan, and the name of his building, but until I Mapquested it I had no idea where exactly he was…less than a tenth of a mile from the World Trade Center – just across the West Side Highway, a road I had driven on, a multi-lane highway to be sure but just a road. I found out later that the WTC subway stop was where he got off every morning to go to his office. His fiancée worked in the same building, about ten floors up.

    I remember clearly sending him an email: “Are you ok?” I never got a reply – he never got the email – his company’s backup servers were in one of the towers. I called his cell phone; I called his apartment; I called his fiancee’s apartment. I couldn’t get through. I called my husband at work – he knew exactly where Drew’s office was but hadn’t wanted to tell me during our first phone conversation, when every thing was just happening. I didn’t have Rebecca’s parents’ phone number; I couldn’t get through to my other brother in New Jersey.

    I stood in the office and watched the entire thing – the networks showed, over and over again, the planes flying into the towers. I remember vividly when the first tower began to crumble, and the panic in the newscaster’s voice. I stood there, my knuckles pressed to my lips, tears streaming silently down my face. I was sick to my stomach, I couldn’t think straight, I had no idea what else was going to happen. I do remember people going on about their business – proposals had to go out, there were deadlines to be met. I was the only person in that small office who had any sort of personal connection to the tragedy, as far as relatives or friends on site. I remember being angry that people were not more upset, more horrified. I did no work; I stood in front of the TVs and cried and speed-dialed my brother’s cell over and over again.

    At some point, I called my babysitter. Simon was about nine months old, and was watched by a friend in our neighborhood, across the city, through tunnels and across a bridge. Downtown was evacuated and shut down; to this day my brother-in-law swears they saw the plane that crashed in Somerset fly over downtown. At that point, flights had been grounded, it would have been one of few planes still in the air. I knew it would take hours to get home, and Mrs. B. told me Si was fine, I should stay put. Her husband was a city firefighter; arguably Si was safer with her at their house anyway. Dan decided to stay at his office as well, for much the same reasons – it would take hours to get home.

    Finally, around noon or so, maybe a little earlier, my older brother called me from South Jersey. He had had a phone call from a friend of Rebecca’s who lived in Philly. Drew had managed to get a phone call through to her somehow, after trying us and Rebecca’s family with no luck, and told her to call everyone to let them know he and Rebecca were safe. He had been in his office when the first plane hit. They were told it was safe to stay. Rebecca actually saw the second plane hit, out of her office window. She and Drew met down in the lobby and headed out toward the river, and uptown to their apartment on 14th St. Drew said he just headed to the river and kept moving; many people stayed and watched, and he was sure that wasn’t safe. He thought the towers were going to come down, but sideways rather than pancaking, and he wanted to be long gone by then. The air was full of smoke and dust, he could see people falling, and there were helicopters everywhere. He had no idea if they were police helicopters, or more terrorists, or what; he just wanted to be away from there. They were safely home before the first tower collapsed but it was hours before he could get a phone call through to anyone.

    I finally left work around 4, managed to get home – I don’t even remember the drive home. I picked up my boy. The sky was blue, blue, blue---the day was gorgeous. There were no visible airplanes overhead, just the drone of Army planes. I got home, turned on the TV, and clutched my boy. I cried and watched the television coverage long into the night, switching back and forth between CNN and Fox (which had surprisingly good, non-sensationalistic coverage). The lack of airplanes that night and the next day or so was eerie. We lived under a flight path for the airport and were used to having airplanes fly over a lot, sometimes every 45 seconds for an hour or so. I was used to hearing planes that sounded like they were going to land on my roof, and being able to look up from my front yard and identify the airline of the plane. I *never* thought I’d be happy to hear an airplane fly over my house again, but when finally they were back up in the air, I was.

    My brother doesn’t talk much about that day. His now-wife will get up and leave the room if you even approach the subject. I never asked and never found out exactly what they saw and smelled and heard; I don’t think I want to know. Drew worked in Jersey for awhile and then his company moved to Midtown. Rebecca’s new job took her past Ground Zero every day for the next couple years. I know she was relieved when finally the company she worked for closed their Manhattan office and she could work from home.

    It turns out that my husband’s college roommate (the one who is coming to visit us this week) was scheduled for a meeting in the WTC that morning, but he had to skip it for some reason. His two co-workers who attended the meeting died. It took him hours to get back home to Connecticut; he was one of those businessmen we saw all over the news, covered in grey dust, walking through Manhattan in their shirt sleeves, trying to get home to their families. He doesn’t talk about that day either. My best friend from college had to walk from her Manhattan office to New Jersey before she could finally get the rest of the way home on public transportation.

    Several weeks later an office friend and I were out for lunch and I mentioned something about the WTC. She laughed and nonchalantly said, “Wow, I guess I don’t even really think about it anymore.” Maybe she was just young and stupid, or innocent beyond belief. No one she knew personally had been affected by the events of that day. But I could not wrap my brain around the fact that she could forget about it. I still thought of it every single day. I still think of it often, although the horror has been dulled by time, and by subsequent events like the war on Iraq and the financial tussles of the victims’ families, and the design competition for the new buildings. The events of that day have been sanitized and media-ized for the comfort of the American public. The bombings in London brought back some of that horror and fear and heart-lurching sickness. I can still see those posters of the “missing” plastered all over walls and telephone poles and every available surface. I can still remember waiting for my phone to ring. I am so glad, every single time I talk to my brother or his wife, that it did. Thank God he didn’t actually work in the towers, or I’d probably have had a heart attack waiting for news. Until I had my children, my little brother was the only person I could imagine dying for.


    Me, me, me -- and thousands dead. But that is what happened today. Now it is about us, and not just about them.
    - Roger Ebert [whose wife and stepdaughter were in New York at the time at the attacks -- September 12, 2001]

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    They call me Heat Miser, whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch...I'm too much!


    I am printing out Thomas coloring pages to keep Jude occupied while I blog. Thank God for the Internet. Simon is on his way over to his cousins’ house for his first-ever sleepover party. We carefully packed, into his Winnie the Pooh backpack which is almost as big as he is, extra socks and underwear and shirts, and his Winnie the Pooh bear, and his toothbrush and toothpaste, and his bunky (a flannel plaid blanket that I could not even stand to LOOK AT in this heat) and his potty seat in case he has to take a crap while he’s there and is worried about falling in….Good Lord, I hope I remembered everything for the following sixteen hours that he might need. So Jude is enjoying his sojourn as an only child, although he was pretty forlorn at first. But I fed him an ice cream sandwich and we played with the hose (he figured out how to turn it on and point it at me, little booger) and now he is getting to color without fighting over the crayons (although the constant monologue continues). I hope he doesn’t get too used to it. Although after the past week of hell, with the boys sniping and fighting and pushing and screaming nonstop, and temps in the high nineties, and my feeling nauseated and exhausted perpetually, I could get used to having only one child around. But I’ll never admit I said that : )

    Oh, Dan just got home. Jude plastered his nose to the window.
    Jude: Mama's tar here. Daddy brudder here?
    Me: Jude, honey, Si is at Aunt Diana's.
    Jude: No! My brudder HERE! [begins to cry]
    Poor little guy. He misses Dyman.


    In the past week, Simon fell off the top of his little ride-on car (please don’t ask…*I* think *he* thinks he is Evil Knievel)and skinned his chin; Jude fell off the door of the same car (again, better not to ask) and has a lovely snot-looking scab right under his left nostril. I am considering putting said car out in the garbage. Thank God I did not give into the entreaties by various in-laws to buy/give them battery-operated motor vehicles. We’d probably have ruptured spleen and broken ribs instead.


    The past week has been indeed hellish, for any variety of reasons, most of which I am unable to articulate other than it’s hot, I am very pregnant, last night I couldn’t extricate my Zoloft from the medicine cabinet because Dan had masked and taped off the entire bathroom to paint it, and we have houseguests coming on Sunday for five days. (Did the nuclear waste test give you any idea of my mood? : )) I love these people, but as I’ve mentioned before, Dan apparently feels the need to live in House Beautiful and I have been extraordinarily stressed and pissy and evil. But I am feeling much better today – something to do with the following three things:
    1) this morning I cranked up the boys’ ac and went back to sleep till noon
    2) when I woke up, I got in my car and went to B&N and spent money
    3) have I mentioned I have only one child to care for the next sixteen hours?

    So I went to B&N to buy birthday presents since we zoned on the children-who-are-coming-to-visit’s birthdays. Emma is 11, and a sweet, intelligent, beautiful girl, who is pretty innocent for eleven these days, I think. She really likes theatre and art, and books. I got her one of those Klutz crafty books about making hemp and bead bracelets, and a copy of Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game.

    Noah is 7, and one of the smartest little boys I know. When I see him, I have a feeling I know what Si will be like in several years. When I first met Noah, he was two, and we were houseguests at his parents’ while we attended Dan’s 15th college reunion. I was four months pregnant with Si, not particularly familiar with the ways of small children, and mostly preoccupied with vomiting my insides out 24-7. Two memories stand out (about Noah, that is; the reunion itself offers all sorts of memories, most of which just piss me off – can you say, “ex-girlfriend from hell”?):

    1)It was bedtime after a very full day. Noah was scrubbed and PJed and ostensibly ready for bed. But then he came downstairs and asked his dad solemnly, “Dad, can I run around the couch?” Andrew said yes and Noah did about ten laps around the couch at full speed. Then he happily went back upstairs, got in bed, and went to sleep.
    2)We were sitting at the dinner table and Noah was crying about something - choice of food, or whatever. His mom said, “What’s up?” and Noah said (articulate two year old that he was!), sniffling and blinking, “I am feeling *very* upset right now.”

    So I got Noah a klutz book about these cool Lego contraptions, and a big book of word puzzles/searches/mazes. They seemed like things Gina’s son Ted would like and I thought Ted was a good guide since he too is smart and cool, and roughly the same age as Noah.

    Me – I bought Green Darkness by Anya Seton (I can’t remember which of my blog buddies recommended it, but I loved the first line, so that’s pretty much a safe indicator for me : )), and a copy of Washington Square/Daisy Miller which it turns out I already have so that will be returned.

    Anne Rivers Siddons has a new book out but I will wait till it comes out in paperback since her last two books were so histrionic and melodramatic as to be virtually unreadable. I really enjoy her early stuff – she reminds me of early Pat Conroy but not quite as violent and masculine - Peachtree Road, King’s Oak, and Fox’s Earth were all well-written, engrossing stories, and The House Next Door thoroughly creeped me out. But over the past few novels, she’s gotten predictable and a wee bit boring. Her characters are caricatures that simply annoy me now, and I generally feel the need to slap some sense into them. So I’ll wait, even though I am sure I will read the new one eventually.

    Sophie Kinsella has a new one out as well, that I will get from the library. I was so disappointed in Shopaholic and Sister that I feel no need to throw good money after bad. I only have so much cash to squander on books.

    Then on the way home I got a brain, stopped and bought some really nice cold cuts and fresh mozzarella at the little Italian deli, and a couple of cantaloupe and a whole watermelon at the little farm stand next door, and decided I am cooking nothing this weekend. Houseguests or no, is there anything better when it’s hot than a nice drippy tomatoey sandwich and some juicy cold melon? No. There’s not. I do not even know why I asked.

    I hate my cats at the moment. It's ninety-five degrees outside and the damn furry creatures want to brush up against me and sit in my lap. What are they thinking?!?! I have threatened Septimus with the pound several times this week; Emmy is smart enough to go outside and stay out my way. Poor pitiful cats and their evil evil person.

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    Arrested Development

    Okay, so I am very late to this, but it's so funny! If you've never seen it, Fox is obligingly showing Arrested Development marathons on Friday nights. If, unlike me, you have a life, you should tape it. The new season starts September 19 at 8pm. I'm thrilled to once again have TV worth making an appointment for. :-)

    fucking perfect

    What Flavour Are You? I taste like Nuclear Waste. Delicious.I taste like Nuclear Waste. Delicious.

    Tasting like nuclear waste is a good thing - nothing bites me, nothing eats me, few things even touch me. I appreciate the solitude my harsh exterior brings. What Flavour Are You?

    courtesy of david

    This is the most entertaining one of these quizzes I've taken in a long time. And it toally appeals to my morbid, death-fascinated, I-shoulda-been-Quincy side.


    I am Rabies. Grrrrrrrr!
    Which Horrible Affliction are you?
    A Rum and Monkey disease.

    Thursday, August 11, 2005


    Teddy's in love with these graphic novels, and I couldn't be happier. The only problem is that only two volumes have been published. If you click on the link and then click again on the center dot at the bottom of the screen, you'll see a character named Ted. :-)


    Also, I ate a plum this morning that *tasted* like plum-scented things *smell*. It was disturbing to the point that I didn't really enjoy the plum at all.


    Still stewing over Man Camp; I'll post about why tonight or tomorrow.

    Blood . . . Boiling . . . Head Going to . . . Explode

    Please tell me you find this ad from Real Simple as offensive as I do. In case you can't see it (I scanned it--it's not a very good image), the ad is for Kenneth Cole Reaction, and the copy asks, "How old is grown up?"

    I am ready to scream.

    "I love you, but sooner or later, you're gonna have to face the fact that you're a goddamned moron."

    Here is the Man Booker Prize longlist, generally a good guide to some decent books. I have heard of most of them, have read none of them. Better get cracking before September 8, which is when the short list is announced, and October 10, which is when the winner is announced.


    I am liking Outlander, as I’ve said, but how many ingenious and impossible ways can Jamie possibly escape from the English/Black Watch/ whoever takes it into their head to capture him next? Right now he’s thrown himself, fully bound with leather thongs, off a horse in the middle of a river and escaped. It’s like Scottish Houdini.


    A review of Salman Rushdie’s latest novel, Shalimar the Clown, due out here on September 6. I could not even finish his last novel, it was so formulaic – and as I have oh-so-cleverly stated before, it was self-derivative -- which isn’t a bad thing considering you’re Salman Rushdie. But it was mediocre at best.
    However, my hopes for the excellency of the newest were dashed with the last paragraph of this review:
    At its best, Rushdie's fiction holds up a warped mirror to real life, in all its absurdity and awfulness. Shalimar the Clown does that to some extent, but feels not fully inflated. Even more than usual, the characters seem allegorical, passion-play placeholders for the grand ideas and currents buffeting the world. The result is an honorable failure, a garbled book for garbled times.


    Jude’s phrase of choice today, uttered approximately every thirty seconds:
    "Ice dream dammich!"

    Si wasn’t feeling well last night – probably something to do with the inordinate amount of Chinese steamed dumplings he ate at dinner. So he slept in his bed. Fine. Except that I had to sleep on the floor then (the boys’ room has the AC). I am too old to sleep on the floor anymore. I hurt this morning.

    There are toys all over my bedroom, which is generally a toy-free zone. But last week they were playing tea party and set up in my room, and they were having such a good time I let it be. However, after stepping on Legos and TinkerToys in the middle of the night one too many times this past week, I demanded it be cleared up today. Si said Daddy said it didn’t have to be cleared up till Saturday (our house guests arrive Sunday). Since Dan is not the one who gets up in the middle of the night (and I have to give into my OCD impulses occasionally), I overruled this bit of nonsense and told them to start cleaning. Much yelling, screaming, dancing about, and crying ensued (despite what you may think, solely on their part). So I used my usual threat: “You can clear it up, or I’ll do it and the stuff will be taken away.” After thoughtful consideration Simon said, “OK, Mom. You do it. I’ll find something else to play with.” I really do NOT deserve these children – do I?


    A quote from today’s paper’s Morning File:
    “A pessimist is a man who looks both ways when crossing a one-way street.”
    Unless you live where I do, where pedestrians are merely prey for all those oh-so-skilled-at-driving neurosurgeons on their way to emergency surgery, coffee cups and cigarettes in hand, and cell phone to ear.

    That said, I'd probably *still* look both ways.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    Oh Heathcliff! You're a sniveling, moody bastard but I love you anyway!

    You're Catherine Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights by
    Emily Bronte!

    Which Classic Female Literary Character Are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla


    I HATE Wuthering Heights and I am no fan of Catherine Earnshaw. Life is so not fair. Thanks a lot, David!

    Gina, *I* want to be Elizabeth Bennett. But you are so her, that was pretty accurate. I'm just lucky I didn't get pegged as Mrs. Rochester, I suppose.

    Of course, given these choices, I suppose Catherine is fairly accurate after all. Sigh.

    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    You know you've made it when you've been moulded in miniature plastic. - Cate Blanchett

    Monday evening, 6 pm.
    Simon refuses to eat the ziti, even though I assure him that it tastes the exact same way the spaghetti does. I curse Dan under my breath for either not knowing or not caring about this preference and taking the leftover spaghetti rather than the ziti for lunch. (This is the difference between mothers and fathers – I would have known to take the stupid ziti. Dan’s a grown man and doesn’t much care what form of pasta he ingests. Simon, on the other hand…) Si instead eats an entire can of pears for dinner. (Jude eats the ziti – I have my own in-house version of Jack Sprat and his wife.)

    Tuesday morning, 3 am.
    “Mama! Mama! I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed yyooooooouuuu!!!!!”
    I wake out of a sound-ish sleep to find Si dancing frantically in my doorway.
    “I have to go to the bathroom and I need to hurry! Help me!”
    My mothering instinct kicks in (or my don’t-wish-to-scrub-the-bathroom-floor-at-three-in-the-morning instinct, hard to tell) and I leap out of bed, grab the child, whip off his underwear, and plunk him on the toilet just in time.
    Unusually he wishes me to remain in the bathroom while he does his thing. So I sit on the edge of the bathtub and discuss Thomas the Tank Engine with him, accompanied by various loud and rude bodily function noises. Finally, he feels much better, and I make a mental note to NEVER ever feed the child pears ever again.
    He climbs back into bed– oh who am I kidding – he is sleeping on the floor these days, his preference, I just hate to admit that my child sleeps on the floor when he has a perfectly fine and comfy bed. So he climbs back under his comforter and quilts and asks me to stay a bit. All right. Because even though I am hugely pregnant, I sometimes feel guilty that I am too impatient and not affectionate enough with my older son, and so I feel compelled to crawl into his floor-nest and hug him to me. (He is so not a snuggler. Jude curls right into me and wraps his little arms around my neck; cuddling with Si is somewhat like trying to cuddle with a box of Legos or maybe his Wiggles radio.) Also, he wishes to discuss with me, in great detail and with enthusiasm, the Moomintroll book we started reading that evening before bedtime.

    “Mom, what is Moomintroll?”
    “Uh…a troll.”
    “Why did he want to sleep with Snufkin instead of Sniff?”
    “Because Sniff snores.”
    “Ooooh! That’s the Sniff that snores!”
    Silence. I pray he is asleep. Nope.
    “Mom? Are Moominmamma and Moominpappa just Moomintroll’s parents? Or Sniff’s and Snufkin’s too? “
    “Si, I haven’t the foggiest. I just started reading the book too. Now go to sleep.”
    “Mom? Can I take Frog and Toad to school with me tomorrow?”
    “Simontroll, it’s time to sleep.”
    Finally he simply runs out of steam and goes to sleep, probably because I promise him an entire chapter of Moomintroll when he gets home from preschool tomorrow, but now I am wide awake. Which is my right and just punishment for allowing my boy to eat an entire can of pears.


    I just checked out of my library Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and DM Thomas’ The White Hotel both upon the recommendation of a coworker who I like very much (and who is way smarter than me). After I finish Outlander (soon, soon), I felt like I had a gazillion books lined up but I guess I didn’t really. And I am not that thrilled to go back to Son of the Circus so perhaps I’ll postpone that for a bit. I am scheduled for vacation in three weeks, so for a week away I need at least four books to take with me. (Because you have to account for moods, etc.) So I have to start thinking about vacation reading possibilities as well. Last year I read Cloud Atlas, The Perfect Storm, The Bitch in the House, and a new issue of Brain, Child. So you see, I really do run the gamut on vacation. (Although I learned my lesson year before last and refuse to read shark books at the beach. Close to Shore was a really good read but I was terrified to get in the water. ) Some of the other time travel suggestions will probably make it into my luggage - The Garden of Iden looked particularly intriguing and fun. Maybe the second book of the Outlander series. Possibly Slammerkin, Vanity Fair, or maybe some Rushdie. Or maybe I will just go wander B&N (or the library) and splurge.


    Gina, Sarah Louise, and I watched “Washington Square” on Saturday evening. At first we thought Jennifer Jason Leigh was just laughable but as the movie progressed, her character developed and matured in subtle and beautiful ways. At the end of the movie, I can only say I admire her acting ability after all, even if the last movie I saw her in was “The Hitcher”. The toothsome Ben Chaplin plays the love interest, but alas, I knew going into it that it was based on the Henry James novel so I knew not to expect a happy ending. (Although I recently read Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers, which strangely did end happily – something I never in a million years expected from Wharton, James, or others of that period and ilk.)



    I want to go to this.

    The Booker Prize longlist will be announced tomorrow. That should give me some vacation-reading fodder. And never fear, I will share my opinions.

    I wanted to love Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but I just could NOT get into it. Maybe it too will take a trip to the shore with me. I can't be the only person who doesn't get it...can I?

    OK, I want to see a picture of Barbie the Librarian. Could she possibly be as cool as the action figure based on Nancy Pearl? And what would her accessories be – obviously the glasses, and maybe a book – like the ALA’s Guide to Reference Books; perhaps a subscription to ProQuest or Lexis Nexis? Maybe the companies could do some sort of product tie-in.

    I’ve always kinda dug Struwwelpeter, so I need to check this book out. I agree with the Bookslut people, though – I like the UK cover much better than the US cover.


    My husband’s very sweet and fairly rich college roommate and his family are coming to visit next Sunday. So we are in the throes of frantic house-fixing-up, in Dan’s desperate hope of fooling them into believing that we do not indeed live in a hundred-year-old house we got for a steal and which needs years of work. Andrew is the nicest guy in the world, and his wife is great, and I love their kids – they all will not care, but Dan…now. Having attended a very prestigious university, and regardless of the fact that I try to hide his alumni magazine from him, he suffers from an inferiority complex because he has not recently been named chief of surgery at Johns Hopkins or written a best-selling critically acclaimed novel, or invented the next greatest thing in microchips, or been appointed to the President’s cabinet. So I take a deep breath, having long ago reconciled myself to *my* personal mediocrity in the face of *my* alumni magazine, and try to fix up the house for the guy. Because I love him, and because I personally think he’s done some amazing stuff and is an amazing guy. But what the hell do I know? I’m just married to him.