Thursday, March 26, 2009

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

Badger wanted to know if I planned to further review In the Woods. At first I thought I would, but the difficulty of discussing what bugged me about the book is that it directly affects spoiling it for people who haven’t read it. So – I won’t review it per se. I will reiterate that it was a heck of a good read, and it kept me guessing (in some aspects) right up to the last page. The more straightforward mystery’s solution was obvious, but I think that was the author’s intention. I would definitely recommend it, and I am looking forward to reading French’s The Likeness, which features the most likeable character from this book.

Now to real news: I am going away this weekend. By myself (that is, without children or husband). Some high school friends with whom I reconnected via Facebook are getting together – where else? – down the shore. (Have I mentioned ever how much I miss the ocean, living 400 miles inland?) I have known all of these girls since high school, and a couple since kindergarten. Most of us are mostly SAHMs, a couple working part-time to keep sane, make some money, and keep our hands in our fields. One of us has 2 kids; 2 have 3 kids; 3 have 4, and one supermom has 5. You could check any or all of us into the Motel 8 on the Turnpike and I wager we’d be content.

I am baking a coffee cake and a coconut custard pie, and stocking up on munchies and a breakfast casserole, as we are all chipping in to feed everyone (although we do intend to go out also. Because, hello? The beach? Seafood!). I am very excited, despite the fact that I am not going to get a (much-needed) haircut before I leave. I am anticipating even the six-hour drive – peace and quiet and my music, NOT the Wiggles or “Philadelphia Chickens.”

Suse, dear, I am taking a knitting project (a poncho for my 12-year-old niece in fluffy pale pink yarn), and just in case, extra needles and yarn, in case anyone wants to learn. I plan some morning runs on the beach. I am taking a movie to share (what else? “Twilight.”)

But as always when I go away – what am I taking to read? Well, first, I am taking a bag of books to share – stuff I have doubles of, or stuff I won’t reread. (This still leaves me with approximately 2K-plus books jostling for bookcase space (or in the bedroom, floor space, sigh).)

But to read: I am wrapping up the third Cazalet family volume, Confusion (and hoping book four, Castng Off comes today. Not likely, alas.) I am still stocked, with volume 11 of the Fables graphic novels, War and Pieces; the newest Maisie Dobbs, Among the Mad; Mary Doria Russell’s Dreamers of the Day (someday I WILL read this, I swear, although I must note that this book is more well-traveled than I am), a library book called The Birth House (recommended by my friend who likes reading about midwives. In the to-share bag for her goes Karen Cushman’s The Midwife’s Apprentice and Gay Courter’s The Midwife); and a book lent me by a friend who borrowed my copy of Monsters of Templeton, Ahab’s Wife.

So, you know, when I am not eating or napping or giggling or snoozing or talking or sleeping (sense a trend here?) or drooling over Edward with my other Cullen-obsessed friends, I have options.

Always keep your options open. That’s what I have learned in the 20 years since high school.

*Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz...

The crocuses are up, and it’s the first day of spring! (It’s cold but it’s spring!)
My Amazing Appliance Guy is coming to finish fixing my oven upstairs! I think I’ll bake a Victoria sponge in celebration of spring.

I finished In the Woods, and was not as wowed by the ending as I wanted to be, as I was by the rest of the book. I bit off my nails getting to the end, though!

I am halfway through the third book of the Cazalet Chronicle, Confusion, and just ordered the last, Casting Off. I am also, sort of surprisingly to me, enjoying The House on Tradd Street.

And tomorrow the DVD of Twilight is released!
Yes, I pre-ordered it, shut up, so it should be here SOON!
Squee! I feel like I am 13 again (only with a healthy sense of the ridiculous)!


Monday, March 16, 2009

"If you go out in the woods today, You're sure of a big surprise."*

I'm sorry, I'd write a real post about our party (successful), or some new books I snagged at the library (cheap!), or the psycho wife of a friend I had to block on FB (Sheesh! Grow UP!), or the boxes of books that appeared at my door (thanks, Sueeus! You are a sweetheart!) - but I am burying my nose in this till I finish it, I have no fingernails left, or both.

*"The Teddy Bears' Picnic"

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Logic, like whiskey, loses its beneficial effect when taken in too large quantities."*

True story:

H said, and I quote: "It would make me the happiest man in the world if the molding in the dining room was all the same color. Like, for Saturday, for the party."

And I looked at him and said witheringly (albeit 24 hours later, after I had come to my senses, and after I'd bought 26 pounds of corned beef): "Does it not make you the happiest man in the world that your children are dressed in clean clothes and fed and go to school on time? And that your dinner awaits you each night? Oh, and that I AM COOKING FUCKING CORNED BEEF FOR 80 PEOPLE ON SATURDAY? Even though I have 2 dissertations to edit this week? Huh?"

To which he replied, "How come YOU are the only one allowed to exaggerate?"

And then I killed him with a sharp paring knife and ate his liver with a nice Chianti.

The End.

Fecking Irish.

*Lord Dunsany, whoever that may be when he's at home.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"N is for Neville who died of ennui..."

Well, a fat lot of good YOU are.

I expected an answer.
The right answer.
An answer that made me say, "Why, yes, yes, that is the very book I was thinking of, published within the past year or so and with practically an identical cover."
But, noooooooo.
I still love you, but honestly, people, I am a wee bit disappointed.

Kristin, I, too, immediately thought of Monsters of Templeton but we all know that I need hardly any excuse at all to further trumpet my love of Monsters.
Not so much, see?

Jess, I did what any logical person would do and checked the Wikipedia entry on Carson Ellis.
(Shhh, don't tell my librarian friends.)
This is her first book cover, BUT her website and her blog are quite lovely, and I had a great time perusing them. (Also, weirdly, I had just heard the most horrifically Godawful and harrowing song on our local indie radio station and when I finally figured out what/who it was?
The Decemberists.
The Rake's Song.)

So, despite Ms. Ellis's slacking on more book covers (I don't really mean that, dear), all is not lost. Even though I KNOW that these, neither of these, are THAT book, these are acceptable suggestions: Check 'em:

The inimitable Delta offers this: I had a sudden flash: a light blue/teal cover and the same twirly ribbon thing with words. Like it was from a template or something. I am thinking a book of children's poems or short pieces. A thin paperback. Like something I would have ordered from the Uncommon Reader when the boys were little. And maybe even passed on to YOU!!!
And wow, is she good! I found this on Primo's bookshelf:
John Ciardi's You Read to Me, I'll Read to You.

Which cover made me go, "Huh." How could I NOT have seen THAT before?
'cause, look:

And this:

Edward Gorey.

I see it.
Am I the only one?

Someday soon I will write a post on my inordinate love for the odd Mr. Gorey and his strange creations, and the totally awesome biography of his I read called Ascending Peculiarity, which is the most fitting biography title EVER. But now I must sleep. I am missing an hour, and I know it's here somewhere...


The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Edward Gorey

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

“If your great umbrage would care to meet my high dudgeon at 12 paces, I would be happy to entertain you at dawn.”

The third 39 Clues book came out today. Unless you are an eight-year-old boy, or the parent of an eight-year-old boy, I don't expect you to realize the import of today's events. It seems to be, at least to Primo, somewhat akin to the Harry Potter mania. But without costumes. Or maybe Webkinz, without the little animals, and more...cerebral.

From Powell's:
The 39 Clues is Scholastic's groundbreaking new series, spanning 10 adrenaline-charged books, 350 trading cards, and an online game where readers play a part in the story and compete for over $100,000 in prizes.

The 39 Clues books set the story, and the cards, website and game allow kids to participate in it. Kids visit the website — — and discover they are lost members of the Cahill family. They set up online accounts where they can compete against other kids and against Cahill characters to find all 39 clues. Through the website, kids can track their points and clues, manage their card collections, dig through the Cahill archives for secrets, and "travel" the world to collect Cahill artifacts, interview characters, and hunt down clues. Collecting cards helps: Each card is a piece of evidence containing information on a Cahill, a clue, or a family secret.

Pret-ttty darn cool, eh? Primo dived headfirst into the Internet phenomenon of this series, aided and abetted by his mother, who understands all too well the desperate desire to read a new book RIGHT. NOW. DAMMIT. (In fact, his mother even rescinded her homework-before-all-else rules tonight and let him finish the book before tackling the homework.)(And let him use HER laptop to register his new cards. Greater love, blahblahblah....)

When at B&N this afternoon (yes, I made a special trip, shut up, you would, too), the lady who works the kids' section (but seemingly knows only what the little cover blurbs and PW says about most children's books, which I find distinctly odd) recommended Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society. Now I don't need to know if it's good, because I already bought it and intend to read it before passing it on to Primo to keep him occupied for a few hours; what I need to know, and I need you, my 'netties, to help me with, is this:

Recently, at least, within the past year, maybe, I read an adult book with a cover screamingly similar to this. And yet I can't dredge up from the soggy depths of my brain what book it was. Helllllpppp. Meeeeeeee. Help! before my brain drowns and all prior knowledge with it.

Because it's driving me CRAZY.


*Benedict Arnold (The man was surprisingly snarky and amusing.)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”*

Random, random.

I am happily reading two involved books at the same time – Michael Lee West’s She Flew the Coop and Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Marking Time.
Michael Lee West’s books always take me by surprise; they seem lighthearted and happy, what with the snarky Southern women and delectable sounding recipes sprinkled throughout, and they are often very funny, but they also often deal with serious life-or-death issues, and the culmination of events often smacks you in the face with reality.

Elizabeth Jane Howard’s books are for anyone who read the Penny Vicenzi Lytton family books, or Rosamunde Pilcher’s “big” books, and enjoyed them. The first one in the Cazalet series, The Light Years seemed to take me forever to read, but I gobbled down the second (I am just about finished) in less than a week and just ordered the third (of a quartet).

I am also reading the strange but intriguing The Partisan’s Daughter, which is so completely different from the only other Louis De Bernieres I have read (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) that I feel like I am reading a book by a different author.


The two older boys and I got in what may well be the last round this winter of ice skating. H’s cousin generously gave s some of the free passes he had won to the downtown rink. It was freaking cold and we were in what amounts to a wind tunnel, but it was not crowded at all and the ice was in good shape. My skates need to be sharpened desperately. I am a pretty good skater and may opt out of my run Wednesday when the babysitter comes for an hour on skates instead. I won’t be able to skate outdoors for much longer.


Our annual St Pat’s party is approaching, and I can’t find my file from last year that reminds me how many pounds of corned beef I need to feed 80 people. Grrrrrr. I have a sinking feeling that the document was on my hard drive that was wiped away when my computer died this summer.


We found an amazing appliance repair guy who fixed my cook top griddle and my oven, both of which are over fifty years old. Because of the way the appliances are integrated into the cabinetry, and because any major kitchen overhaul is on hold for a good long while if not indefinitely, it was my deepest desire this year, for Christmas, to have someone make my oven work.
Because cooking dinner with your only working oven in the basement bites the big one.
Especially when your baby sits at the top of the basement steps, sticking his little arms frantically through the cat door and wailing piteously until you return from the depths.

So my upstairs oven works. Yay, me! Now I can bake real chocolate chip cookies.

Next gift: calling the carpenter to build bookshelves for the stacks of dusty books piled around my bedroom floor.

Actually, my next gift is to take the money H gave me for Christmas to spend at Half Price Books and compile a rather large order from Persephone Books. A blogger who shall remain nameless (but who is insanely generous and has a really cute new-ish baby boy) sent me, as a lovely and completely unnecessary thank you for some minor things, a gift voucher for two Persephone Books. (I KNOW! Could anyone have given me a more thoughtful gift?) I spent a glorious afternoon perusing the catalog and trying to decide. In difficulty of choice, it completely blew past the cheese counter at the import store, and also picking candy at the chocolate shop. (In fact, my thought process regarding my choices might be worthy of its own blog post.) But I was even more excited once I factored in that H gave me that money specifically to spend on books, and he did say HPB because that was where I have been book-shopping, bur I don’t think he’d care if I spent it at Persephone instead.

As long as I really do get those bookcases built...

*Leo Tolstoy