Sunday, August 05, 2007

"Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of."

I. Cannot. Take. The. Noise. Level. In. My. House. One. More. Minute.

In his infinite wisdom, H bought the boys Styrofoam pool noodles and they (the boys, not the noodles) are running in and out of their bedroom, conscientiously slamming the door each time in order to keep the cool air in (“Do you think I am air-conditioning the entire house?!”), whapping each other with the noodles.
I know a baby’s laughter is supposed to be a heartwarming and joyous sound, but when Terzo laughs so hard he is shrieking and breathless, it always, ALWAYS means that havoc has ensued. Markers have been wielded, or diapers pulled off, or children are leaping about the living room, from couch to piano to coffee table without touching the floor, inviting cracked skulls, broken bones, and blood.

My nerves can’t take much more of this. How long before school begins?


I spent several hours today shopping for new bed pillows for the boys, and buying hair for Mimi (yes, I will definitely post photos, fear not), and making fitted sheets from flat because God forbid the two boys alternate a set of Pokemon sheets (brand new, given to me by my boss, and unattainable on EBay without much bidding and gnashing of teeth – I am such an EBay wuss). I head to Target, or much more likely the thrift shop, tomorrow to buy solid-colored flat sheets, and solid pillowcases (one of which will be split along with the one Pokemon case and turned into two one-sided Pokemon cases. And then the boys can argue over who gets the pillow with Ash and who gets the one with Pikachu.)

Meanwhile, I am calling yet more concrete people to see about putting steps into our retaining wall - the project that is holding up the fencing, the mulching, the shed, the rebuilding of the back porch, and new porch short, just about every outside plan we have.

And I suddenly have a yen to put up bamboo shades in my bedroom. Because the filmy cream linen drapes are very pretty but do damn all to keep the morning sun from baking me alive. And I have this theory about nice heavy velvety drapes in the winter reducing the draft...Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to Target I go...


Conveniently, fortuitously, the brand-new Half Price Books is two stores away from Bed Bath and Beyond.
It was insanely crowded, but I managed to find a way to spend some money anyway. It definitely merits a return visit some nice quiet weekday afternoon, although the North Hills HFB is still the best in my humble opinion.

I got for Seg Dorling Kindersley’s Titanic book; coincidentally enough, I had just ordered online this morning Robert Ballard’s Exploring the Titanic, a book mentioned as a major hit with her first grade classes by the funny, witty, and lovably quirky Bailey White, in Mama Makes Up Her Mind, and other hazards of southern living.

I picked that volume off my TBR shelves last night because H and I had had a huge fight and I needed comfort reading; it seemed like it would fit the bill and indeed it did. It was light enough to make me feel better, but not frothy enough to make me feel as if I were wasting my time completely. There was only one wee little thing that marred the experience: in one of the first stories, Ms White explains that her father went off on an archaeological expedition, leaving her mother home alone with several small children. As a sort of consolation prize, the leader of the expedition gave Mama his grandfather’s telescope. Through the years (the father returned and then left again, permanently this time), Mama spent long evenings looking at the skies and the fields and forest surrounding their farm with that telescope. Especially as she grew older, feebler, and increasingly immobile, the telescope allowed her to remain involved in life outside her house. Unfortunately, on his deathbed, the expedition leader desired his grandfather’s telescope, and over her family’s protestations (“What’s he going to do with it, he’s DYING?!”), Mama carefully packed it up and sent it back to him. Shortly thereafter, she received as a premium from some public radio station a pair of cheap plastic binoculars, which took the place of her beloved telescope. They were not nearly so powerful or effective, but she continued to use them. The story winds up with Mama using those cheap binoculars at their vacation home, and a kindhearted marine biologist taking pity on the frail old woman and taking her out on the boat so she can see what’s really going on.

But the entire last half of the chapter, I screamed internally (because everyone else here was asleep), "Buy your poor old mother a new telescope, you cheap-ass ungrateful children!" I mean, I KNOW that would have ruined the story. I KNOW that would have derailed Ms White’s point that Mama made do and was a scrappy and self-sufficient woman, even as an old lady. (And I KNOW (or at least I hope to God) that that it is just a good story and really they went out and bought her a telescope akin to the Hubble.) But throw your readers a bone and buy your mom a telescope, it’ll be the best couple hundred bucks you ever spend.

But I digress.

You all want to know what I bought, of course you do. For Seg, the Titanic book [a whopping $8], and for Primo, two Encyclopedia Browns (Shows the Way & Takes the Cake) [$2/each] and a Matt Christopher hockey book [also $2] that he hadn’t read yet (the number shrinks ever smaller).

For me (because it’s ALL ABOUT ME and *I* didn’t get new Pokemon sheets):

Under the Banner of Heaven - Jon Krakauer. [$1] I love Krakauer’s writing, it’s his only book I have not yet read, and it was on the clearance racks for a dollar.

The Enchanted Castle - E. Nesbit. [$2] I thought I might read this with the boys. Also, Paddington Abroad [$1], since the first Paddington book was such a rollicking success. (They make me hungry, those Paddington books. It's all the marmalade and jam-and-cream buns that bear devours.)

A strange little book called Lobster Moths [$1] written and illustrated by Diane Redfield Massie. No idea about the story, but the line drawing illustrations were so charming that I figured for a buck I could take a chance.

Being Dead - Jim Crace. [$2] Jim Crace is one of those authors whom I want to love. But since I have never actually read any of his books, so therefore I have no idea if I do. I have had Quarantine, his novel about Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, sitting on my shelves for several years now, and I am dying to read his newest, The Pesthouse, because it’s firmly set in the post-apocalyptic genre that is so popular these days, and according to Amazon, is "less crushing than Cormac McCarthy’s The Road." (Well, that’s a fucking relief. I am not sure what could possibly be MORE crushing than The Road, but that’s just me.) Crace seems to be a tad on the weird side – this book is about a dead couple. Being dead. Per the title. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson. [$1] Although it’s only called The Haunting (I am promised on the front cover that the text is unchanged), due to the fact that at some point someone made a movie out of it. (Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Liam Neeson, among others. Huh.)

So all in all a successful afternoon. Although, did I then pick up one of my new books to read? Of course not. They will live on my shelves until their time is ripe. I am finishing up Doomsday Book, and I have two library books, Pledged; The secret life of sororities by Alexandra Robbins and Plain Secrets: An outsider among the Amish by Joe Mackell, demanding my immediate attention. But I pulled The Obituary Writer by Porter Shreve off my TBR shelves this afternoon (because Doomsday Book was ALL THE WAY DOWNSTAIRS) and am about fifty pages into that.

So, you know, at least I have a plan.


lazy cow said...

I used to think the swim noodles were called doodles (well, it's hard to hear at an indoor pool and they are the correct shape, if not size).
Sorry, but I'd want that telescope, obviously not a self-sacrificing mother.
Reading about all that shopping made me tired. But not as tired as all the fucking Meccano I'm putting together for my son.

Badger said...

I heart Shirley Jackson. Have you read We Have Always Lived in the Castle? Creepy. And one of my favorite books.

I read The Enchanted Castle via DailyLit a while back. I don't think my kids would appreciate it, but I liked it.

MsCellania said...

The fact that you had a rip-roaring fracas w/h and are now reading The Obituary Writer made me snicker.
I sobbed big hiccupping gulps while reading McCormac's Border Trilogy. I haven't had the courage to read The Road.

Gina said...

Being Dead is the only one of Crace's books I've read, and I liked it well enough. It's very quiet, as a book featuring dead people should be.

Joke said...

Remind me not to recommend you buy your sons' The Dangerous Book For Boys.


nutmeg said...

It's probably a good thing I don't have a half price books near me - TBD is bad enough. So easy; they have my details and credit card on file - one click and off wafts another book to my home ;-)

And I love the picture in your header. I so want to put a picture on mine but Stomper explained it to me once and it sounded quite difficult. I also want to put Kingsolver's vegetannual picture on my sidebar - can't seem to be able to do that either :-(

MsCellania said...

I had a big Horsman walking dog re-wigged 15 years ago and it set me back $75!! And every time I look at that doll I think "Good Lord - I've turned her into a Country-Western Singer!" Look out for the Too Much Poofy Hair for Mimi!

Sarah Louise said...

The Haunting or The Haunting of Hill House is FAB! I loved it.

Did you go to the new HPB in Monroeville?

My vw is (no kidding) zorko. It makes me think of zorro. Except he's a dork, so he's zorko.