Sunday, February 21, 2010

To market, to market...

I bought Primo a copy of Percy Jackson's The Lightning Thief a while ago at the thrift store. He tried to read it but asserted that it was too scary, so it was lent out to someone and has never been seen again.

NOW, of course, Primo wants to read The Lightning Thief, because he wants to see the movie but he, purist apple that he is, wants to read the book first.
Now I am a sucker for people wanting books, so I borrowed the book from The Boy the last time I was at Gina's. Primo whipped through it in a little under two days.

He wanted to read more. I know how that feels, to want to keep reading a series of books until you come to the end. So when the library hold list was like a hundred people long, I stopped at Borders on Friday, my day sans children, and bought the next three books. (I also picked up the seventh Ricky Ricotta book for Seg, so he wouldn't feel left out, although he has picked up Lightning Thief, is not in the least frightened by it, and is enjoying it immensely.)

I had a lovely potter round the bookstore and bought some stuff.

For moi:
Dead Lucky by Lincoln Hall. Yeah, I like reading about crazy mountaineering adventures while curled up on my couch under a blanket.
The White Tiger. It won the 2008 Booker, need I say more? I am a SUCKER for the Booker. Even after reading Line of Beauty.
This Book is Overdue!. By the author of the very enjoyable Dead Beat, and about librarians. How could I NOT buy this?

You know how sometimes you go to the bookstore and despite money burning a hole in your pocket, there's nothing you want to buy? (Oh, it's rare, but it DOES happen, even to me.) And other times you go and could stagger out with an armload of books? This time I could have gone home with an armload but I controlled myself somewhat.

Especially since H had just given me for Valentine's Day a BOOK. A book he picked out himself. A book I think I might enjoy. It's called Odd Mom Out, by Jane Porter, and it looks funny.
He knows the way to my heart - especially since he paired the book with a nice bar of good dark chocolate. Nice man.

My Family and Other Animals


Yes, yes, I am yelling at you.
Kim, was it you?
Because, dammit, woman, I have WORK to do!

I can't just sit around all day reading books that make me laugh out loud, and sometimes, laugh till I cry.

Are you pleased with yourself, missy?
Are you? Huh?

UPDATED: Well, how embarrassing. Thank God it was Kim and not someone who might expect dignity and decorum from me. Turns out it was Pip at Meet Me at Mike's. I can't really yell at her as I "know" her in a much more dignified and/or reserved manner than I do Kim (that is, I am pretty confident she, if she even knew who I might be, would still labor under the delusion that I am a mature, responsible adult.) Kim, however, long ago lost such delusions, but fortunately she is also quite possibly my twin separated at birth.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And finally Winter, with its bitin', whinin' wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow.

We are riding out our third 2-hour delay this week. We didn’t have a 2-hour delay yesterday – because school was closed.
School was closed all last week.
And yesterday. Did I mention that?
Today’s 2-hour delay was greeted with groans and crying from my two big boys – a 2-hour delay cancels their planned field trip today. But also I think even they are getting bored.

I am not necessarily bored. I’ve tried to keep the boys busy with sledding, shoveling, movies, chores, science projects, board games, library books…right now they are running the short-track speedskating for their Animalympics. I think Primo’s bear Champ just won his heat.

I have been baking and cooking healthy meals (and not so healthy – French toast for breakfast this morning). I’ve been knitting and keeping up with laundry, but have given up on the state of my house. I have been reading some good stuff – Elizabeth Kostova’s new book The Swan Thieves, Dedication by the authors of The Nanny Diaries - more detailed posts to follow.

But really, I just want to curl up in a fetal position in the bottom of a nice bottle of rum - or under my down comforter would do in a pinch - and have someone wake me when the snow melts.
Sometime in July is my guess.

The cats are the only ones with any sense.

UPDATED: I just got everyone in the car to take them to their respective schools and my van won't start. Scramble, scramble, got everyone rides. Now I lie on the floor and weep; my frustration knows no bounds right now. Don't mind me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"My wandering foot gets to itching..."

This man is Charles Ingalls, right?
Pa is kind and calm and utterly practical.
He is the cornerstone of the Ingalls family.
He takes care of everyone.

I loved Pa when I was a little girl, happily watching the TV series of "Little House on the Prairie." I wanted to be Laura. (Didn’t every little girl? I mean, NO ONE wanted to be fussy, smug Mary, did they? Like everyone wants to be Jo, no one wants to be Beth…c’mon, you can tell me the truth…)

Stuck in the house last week by several feet of snow and without my van, I reread my Little House books, starting with the one in which the Ingalls family moves reluctantly into town from their claim shanty for the winter. Pa reasons that the train will continue to bring supplies into town, so they will spend the long, hard, cold winter snug, warm, and fed, in town. Alas, the almost-daily blizzards trap the townfolk in their houses and prevents the train from getting through – there are starving families and there’s no fuel for warmth, until those intrepid Wilder boys go to buy wheat from a farmer out on the vast, snow-covered prairie. They barely make it back before the impending blizzard, but they do, and their wheat saves the day. Eventually the winter ends, the supply train gets through, and we leave the Ingalls family happily scarfing down salt pork and cornmeal mush (I think my husband would have died of palate boredom as a Little House denizen…he can’t even stand to eat the same meal two nights in a row, let alone for months on end…)

After finishing The Long Winter, I happily started right from the beginning, Little House in the Big Woods. I moved with the Ingalls family from the woods of Wisconsin, to Indian territory in Kansas, to Minnesota and Plum Creek, onward to De Smet, South Dakota. As I happily read through each book, I began to realize something: Pa has some wanderlust going on. Some delusions of grandeur. Some “the grass is always greener…” tendencies.

For example:
When he discovers the government has messed up the boundary lines of his homestead in Indian territory and he will be forced to move, he throws a bit of a temper tantrum and packs up his wife, his children, and their belongings into the covered wagon, and moves the VERY NEXT DAY, lighting out for greener pastures.

Moving to what he himself terms “the land of milk and honey” of Minnesota, he builds a house completely on credit, only to have grasshoppers eat his wheat crops, forcing him to take a job managing a hotel for his sister’s husband. Even then, with money coming in and the family living in town and enjoying the social life and educational opportunities there, he can’t wait to go stake a claim on the prairie in the Dakota Territories.

Money flows through his hands like water: he buys a plow only to abandon it because it’s “too heavy” to move; he trades horses, oxen, and cows like little boys trade baseball cards; and he brags to Caroline of the silk dresses and fine house he will build her, when his ship comes in (in the form of wheat crops). And yet the constant refrain, throughout all the books, is his desire to never owe anything to anyone: he insists they must not be beholden to anyone for even the littlest thing. Being and having good neighbors is all well and good, but all thoughtful deeds or the smallest gesture of kindness must be repaid promptly and in equal measure.

In short, although Laura sees her Pa as the paragon of virtue and knowledge, Charles Ingalls is self-absorbed, delusional, and ever-restless. I started to feel sorry for Caroline, who, like many sensible women, was taken in by a twinkling pair of eyes, a charming manner, and promises of a better life. She makes the best of things, because she has to. She loves him, because he is charming and roguish and lovable. But is he stable? A good provider? The man she should have settled down with and had babies with? Not necessarily. She is uprooted over and over again, along with her children, and lives in sometimes ridiculous and dangerous conditions, because Charles can’t stand to be trapped, to be stuck anywhere, among too many people, for too long.

Charles Ingalls, Ne’er-Do-Well on the Prairie.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beware the Jabberwock, my son...

Who does Mia Wasikowska LOOK like?

I can hear the actress's voice - kind of low and hoarse...
I can picture her with this SAME expression on her face.
I just can't pinpoint who it is.
Note: It's not Jodie Foster, Cate Blanchett, or Mary Stuart Masterson - all favs of mine But, nope, not them.

Monday, February 08, 2010

It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Then it's just fun.

It stands to reason that I would enjoy reading novels about the publishing industry.
I love feeling in the know, getting the details of how a book get published, feeding my long-abandoned dreams of getting to read thru the slush pile for fun (I know, I KNOW.)
Olivia Goldsmith's The Bestseller is probably my favorite, although Judith Krantz's I'll Take Manhattan comes close (and the sex scenes are better).

Blind Submission, the latest entry into this rarified realm (snort), is the story of Angel Robinson, who begins the novel as a bookseller and avid reader, and then lands a job as the assistant to the head of a literary agency. Think The Devil Wears Prada (but the boss isn't quite so senselessly insane), only with books.

So, I actually have no idea where I got this book - I think it's a review copy, and it's been sitting on my nightstand for some time now. I really enjoyed it though - despite its sometimes clunky writing, improbably plot twists, and predictable ending, I just really liked following Angel through her days, watching her interact with authors - famous and wannabe, her nutty boss, and her flaky co-workers. Maybe I just enjoyed living vicariously through her, but sometimes that's ok too.

There's nothing wrong with a straightforward, fun book that for whatever reason grabs you and makes you want to keep reading.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

"Well, there's something you don't see everyday."*

Looks to be about 18 inches of snow out there. Roads are pretty bad, and we are still considered in a state of emergency. However, the only emergency I am feeling at the moment is the fact that I am almost out of chocolate.

(UPDATED: and I need a set of size 15 dpns! Argh! Pencils could work, yes?)

*Dr Venkman, in "Ghostbusters," upon seeing the giant Stay Puft marshmallow Man

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I am JUST saying...

You know you're a mom when the pajama pants you find abandoned in the bottom of your bed have Thomas the Tank Engine printed on them.

Those icy fingers up and down my spine...

Capsule reviews of (mostly) recent library books:

One DOA, One on the Way - Mary Robison. Will someone else please read this book and tell me what the hell it’s about? Because I am not smart enough, nor do I care quite enough, to decipher its meanings. I thought it was nicely written, but just…just…WTF?

That Old Cape Magic – Richard Russo. Russo is back. Somewhat formulaic but not totally pat, and back to his quiet, hilarious, cutting, slice-of-life brilliant self. Back to his pre-Empire Falls (his most overblown book - well, until he wrote Bridge of Sighs) self. Thank the Lord (and his editor).

Beautiful Creatures – Teenage vampires/incubi/supernatural weirdos, but without Edward, so what’s the point? Next…

Remarkable Creatures – NOT the same as Beautiful Creatures, you sillies. This is Tracy Chevalier’s lovely historical novel about Mary Anning, a Victorian woman responsible for many important archaeological finds of the 18th century, causing science to revamp its views on extinction and society to revamp its views on God.

Of Men and Their Mothers – Mameve Medwed. Fairly improbable storyline (I say as the mother of not-yet-teenaged-sons), but a fast, fun read, and with a touching bit of subplot about mothers and their potential (teenaged) daughters-in-law.

Dewey…some cat who hangs out in a library…blahblahblah… – Really? WHAT was I thinking? Who cares?

The Story Sisters - Must. Finish. This.
The Help - Also this.

The ONLY problem I am having with those last two is that I picked up, totally on a whim, an unsolicited review copy of a novel that has been sitting round here for a few months, and it’s a real page-turner that I have no desire to put down. More on that later.