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Out of nowhere in particular, today was a sad day at church. Sad, but at the same time better because of that. Two of our congregation died this past year, and now whenever there’s a sermon or epistle reading that mentions death I think of them. And the people they left behind. And the people who keep finding out they have cancer, like a woman I’ve known since I was a baby, whose kids I’ve grown up with.

We’ve had several variations on the same theme in sermons over the past year or so – that we pray for the sick and the dying, hoping for physical healing but knowing that their souls are what we really pray for. That sickness can bring a person closer to God, in a way that they might not have been had they lived to eighty and died in their sleep. I started thinking today, while half-listening to a sermon on the paralytic being forgiven his sins before being told to get up off his bed and walk, about how the rest of us can take something from this. That by being here with them while they are sick, some of that grace can rub off on us. Or rather, I guess, that we can be more receptive to the grace that’s coming at us from every direction.

We have a corner where people light candles and pray for the dead, and there are framed pictures that people have left. Today, the four-year-old daughter of the man who died in February took his picture and was showing it to everyone around her. “This is my daddy,” she said to me, “on his wedding day. That’s why he has a flower, see?” And I tell her that, yes, I know, I was there. I was a few years older than her, and I was there. “Were you two?” she asks. Um, no. “Four?” No. “Maybe eight and a half?” That’s more like it.

And now, on a lighter note – what I remember from their wedding. It was the first wedding where I really noticed what was happening. When I saw them kiss, my only thought was “eww!! In front of all these people? No way. I’m never doing that.”

I was about to go run some errands when I noticed I was tagged by Katya.

Three names I go by:
1. Jess
2. Jessmonster
3. Miss J (this recently from a coworker who can’t remember my name, just the J. This is a progression from “Kathy’s daughter” since my mom used to work there and helped train him when he was new.)

Three screen names I’ve had:
1. none intersting enough to bear repeating

Three physical things I like about myself:
1. My hair.
2. My eyes – apart from trips to the eye doctor.
3. My feet.

Three physical things I don’t like about myself:
1. My hip/waist ratio and how pants rarely fit well.
2. the way it feels like I have an extra set of shoulders (although I like my actual shoulders just fine – it’s just the extra set that bugs me)
3. the jungle that grows on my legs

Three parts of my heritage:
1. French-Canadian
2. English
3. Swedish

Three things I am wearing right now:
1. Infamous green-stripey shirt
2. Green pants from Columbia, purchased simultaneously
3. Doc Marten slides from the warehouse sale (“children’s” sized and thusly half of adult price)

Three favorite bands/musical artists :
1. John Vanderslice
2. Josh Ritter
3. Ryan Adams

Three favorite songs:
1. Kathleen – Josh Ritter
2. Damn Sam (I Love a Woman that Rains) – Ryan Adams
3. Summer Wasting – Belle and Sebastian

Three things I want in a relationship:
1. laughter – because if you can’t laugh with someone, you might as well die
2. understanding – a kindred spirit
3. faith

Two truths and a lie:
1. The first book I remember checking out of the library is a Blaze book.
2. The first book that made me cry was The Last Battle.
3. The first book I lent and never got back was Sense and Sensibility.

Three physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to you:
1. Hands
2. Shoulders
3. Eyes

Three favorite hobbies:
1. Blueberry picking
2. Reading
3. Knitting

Three things I want to do badly right now :
1. Swim in warm, clear salty water where I can see the bottom
2. Go to the coast (note that these are two seperate activities)
3. Swing in the park instead of going to work

Three things that scare me:
1. water where I can’t see what’s under me
2. large crowds (more in a “what has humanity come to?” sense than a panic sense)
3. friends dying

Three of my everyday essentials:
1. books
2. pen and paper
3. sleep

Three Careers you have considered or are considering :
1. English teacher
2. getting paid to read
3. Librarian

Three places you want to go on vacation:
1. Greece
2. Ireland
3. Israel

Three kids’ names you like:
1. Meg
2. Jonas
3. Barsanuphius

Three things you want to do before you die:
1. write a book
2. have weekends
3. parent

Three ways I am stereotypically a boy:
1. I lift heavy stuff at work
2. I don’t own makeup
3. I’m out of stereotypes

Three ways I am stereotypically a girl:
1. I wear skirts a lot
2. I bake constantly
3. I love chocolate

Three celeb crushes :
I’ll pass. I think I answered this question before and came up with something snide

Three people I am tagging:
You, you and you.

And then almost 12 hours later, I finished it!

I have problems making dinner. As in, I routinely get home after 8 pm. Who wants to cook then? And who wants to spend their morning preparing a meal to be reheated hours later? I suppose what I really should be doing is making lovely salads for myself. Quick, yummy, good on hot days. Okay, that’s my new back-up plan.

But my real dinner plan these days is called crashing the party. Usually at my parents’ or my cousins’, sometimes at Bronwen’s parents’ (good grief, could I have a sentence with any more possessive apostrophes?). Three out of my last five dinners have been at someone else’s house – and with no effort on my part! It just happens. Tonight the plan is this: my cousin’s wife (Di) and my dad (Jimmy Timmy) (I hope no one googles his nickname anytime soon…) are on a softball team, and tonight is the last game. So we’re all trekking over to a field in NE and watching the game (although in my case I’ll be lucky to catch the last inning) and then the cousins are hosting a potluck. I can bring some melon and cookies and hey, dinner! Isn’t family great?

First of all, I’m listening to Daughter of Time thanks to the reminder of its loveliness from Babel. It is, to use someone else’s words, “excessively diverting.” I read it years ago but now I get so much more of it. Plus, now I’ve been here! But it’s the mind that fascinates me – Josephine Tey’s, and her characters’, and the way I feel that this is all really happening, and the book is completely engrossing without me really caring at all where the story goes (because I’ve forgotten). But when you’ve got Derek Jacobi’s long in-drawn breath at the beginning of each chapter, and a bed-bound detective with a fascination with faces, and some history, you know it’ll be good.

Next, this link (stolen from above) has me cracking up this morning. Who knew history could be so funny? And who knew that I was born on the day Richard III died? Or that history could be so funny? Not the dying part, because I’ve just read this and have quite a vivid picture of medieval battle, thank you very much, but because every August, the Richard III Society places newspaper death notices for “Plantaganet, Richard.” What IS it with Richard III? Do people simply need more to distract them?

Apparently I do, given the amount of time I’ve devoted to providing links on the subject.

My uncle Paul died this February, bringing the dead uncle count to three (3) and leaving the missing uncle count at one (1). I learned this weekend that he’s been speaking to us from beyond the grave.

We have this weird generation thing going on in my family, where my uncle was 12 years older than my dad, and his sons, my cousins, are 40-ish, and their kids are all under age ten. My dad is halfway in age between his brother and his nephews, and my siblings and I fit in right inbetween our cousins and their kids.

So my aunt and uncle had 3 boys. Two of their boys (the East Coasters) had three girls each. One (West Coaster) had a boy and a girl (see Independence Day photos). (How many were going to St. Ives? Are you paying attention? I expect you to draw a diagram for your homework.)

While my uncle was sick, the youngest daughter-in-law was doing some of his care, being a nurse. This being the DIL whose last baby was, if family rumor has it right, a little bit of an oops. A good oops, but an oops.

“E,” my uncle says to her, drugged up, “you’re going to have another baby.”

“No, Paul,” she says. “I’m not having another baby. Even if you’re dying. I’m not having a baby because you say so.”

Fast-forward to Saturday. My aunt is visiting.

E. is pregnant.

This is SO my uncle. Somewhere he’s either nodding seriously and saying, “It was God’s will. It’s meant to happen.” Or, he’s chuckling over a bowl of ice cream and saying “I hope it’s a boy!”

Will she break the Great East Coast Girl Streak? Stay tuned.

A little hodgepodge this week. I recently realized that in the period of a week, I’d started and finished five books, and finished two others that I’d started earlier.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy won a Newbery Honor this year and was better than Kira-Kira, which won. Both dealt with some heavy issues, but this one captured my imagination in a way Kira-Kira could only dream of.

The Chocolate War – let’s just say that I finally finished listening to it on tape. It was good but I never really liked it. I would, however, recommend it to people like my brother.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Enjoyed it like a nice slice of chocolate layer cake. My only real complaint is that it can’t stand on its own. It is, of necessity, heavy on backstory and furthering the series at the expense of its own plot. Was there one? I’m not sure. Goblet of Fire, someone could pick that up and enjoy the story for its own sake and let the ‘series plot’ stuff go over her head. This one…well, it couldn’t really be anything else. But CS Lewis, who gave us my all-time favorite series, still managed to make the books stand on their own. So it’s not like it can’t be done.

Holes. I guess I missed this one being in college. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Can now recommend it at work, which is the excuse for all these books (shh, don’t tell anyone).

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader – perfect for people who love books and love reading about people who love books. Favorite quote, after discussing PC translations of scripture and how clunky they are: “I’m not sure I want to be embraced by an Almighty with so little feeling for poetry.”

An adult book! And here’s another one! In the Currently Consuming Category:

Housekeeping – I love the language and style, but I don’t feel compelled to keep reading. When I do, though, it’s just right. And the library copy I have is very nicely thumbed through and curling up at the corners.

And back to the juv section with…Midnight for Charlie Bone. This is my ‘listen to on the way to work’ book and it’s great for distracting me from traffic jams and crazy drivers. As the SLJ review says, “Many aspects of the book are not fully thought out, making it less compelling than it might be.” But the characters are very appealing, and the reading is great – I hear the voice in my head constantly now.

I don’t sleep in anymore. I lost my ability to sleep in, so I claim, upon graduating with a BA. I can keep strange hours, and be lazy, but I can’t really sleep more than 8 hours, or 9 tops. Sometimes I cheerfully wake up with less than that (although not too cheerfully).

This morning I woke up at 10am.

After going to bed around 11:30pm.

Okay, on to more interesting topics. Does anyone else out there just absolutely love Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations? I think I first ran across her in…great. She’s dead. Died in November. I hate it when you find out things like that.

Anyway, I first saw her illustrations in Caddie Woodlawn. I also had a strange fondness for this book as a teen. The picture of the house alone was enough for me. I’ve always been able to spot her illustrations from a great distance – the earnest girls with their hair billowing, the fairy tale forests…Last night at the library I was shelving fairy tales and saw her version of Sleeping Beauty, which I had to stop and read, sitting on the floor in the 398′s.

I adored fairy tales as a child. One of my early memories is acting out Rumpelstiltskin with my mom. I devoured most of Andrew Lang’s fairy books. And then, I stopped liking fairy tales. Probably around the same time I stopped reading only fantasy and historical fiction and starting reading contemporary fiction. High school/college? A few months ago I picked up a book about the Grimm Brothers, talking about all the women they gathered stories from, and suddenly fairy tales sounded fascinating again.

You are a Black Coffee

At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: high

The first two points – me to a T. The lack of cream? Unendearing. Addiction level? Not really.

This morning’s winning conversation topic (I’m thinking of carrying little awards to hand out or something…?) was with Bronwen. The topic of frittering came up. As in, frittering away one’s time doing ex, why and zee. And she said she liked the word fritter. “I love verbs that are also desserts.”

Which got us thinking. Verbs that are also desserts…we made the following list:

fritter*
slump
crisp
cake
cream
trifle*
candy

And then we went to Grand Central. And while we were in line, we admired the blueberry tarts.

“Tart is an adjective and a dessert,” said I.
“It’s a verb, too! ‘Tart yourself up!’” said Bee.
“Yes!” said I.

And then we laughed at our unreasonable enthusiasm for tarting oneself up. And so go the days…

*favorites

Okay, does anyone else talk to books while they’re reading? Katy and Keith like to laugh at me when I do this. It’s like a little conversation.

Book: Intriguing thing happens.
Me: Oh.

Book: Amusing moment.
Me: Hahaha.

Book: Revelation.
Me: So that’s why he…

We’re pretty good friends, Book and I. I’ve been spending an awful lot more time with Book than Computer. Book is very supportive and portable and fictional. Computer gets weary on long outings. Book calls out to me.

Oh shit. Now I doubt. Is it Book and I or Book and Me? It’s Book and Me. Disregard previous bad grammar. Want to know how I made sure? I thought of this book, which I’ve never read. But all titles are there somewhere in my brain.

I participated in an illegal activity yesterday. I feel no guilt. I will not be turning myself in.

So there’s this book? That’s coming out this weekend? And it’s a really big deal to a lot of people? And there are about 850 who have it on hold in our county library system? You know the one I’m talking about? The-Book-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, (TBTSNBN) let’s call it for the sake of googlers and, um, publishers with legal injunctions on their minds.

Yesterday, it arrived. Our 15 copies were escorted to the children’s library by our supervisor. The box with “TBTSNBN” in large, bright letters was draped with a cloth. When it quieted down for the evening, J and I took them out. I property stamped them. And then, gentle reader, while story time lured patrons to the other side of the room, I read.

It’s like candy, and I have a huge sweet tooth.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) no juicy details were reached, no main characters were reached, and there shall be no spilling of such details online. But yes, I’m a criminal.

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I love how much Ben loves vacations. I do not love half hour car naps on the way home.

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Everything was a "fish," even the sea lions.

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