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I realized I was drying up from too many adult novels (a phrase which always sounds vaguely dirty) so I’ve switched back to the real stuff, children’s lit.  I whipped through Just In Case (she has the most marvelous sense of doom, of making you sure that the book will manage to surprise you with swift shifts and gorgeous characters, like Dorothea and Charlie) and now I’m on to The Loud Silence of Francine Green.

Francine rocks.  “I used to hate to write thank-you notes,” she says, “especially for presents I wasn’t truly thankful for, but since I discovered irony, I was finding the task much more pleasant.”

Dear Aunt Martha and Uncle George,

Imagine my pleasure when I opened my presents Christmas morning, when it was 82 degrees here in Los Angeles, to find the plaid mittens-and-scarf set you sent me.  What would I have done without it?

                                                Yours truly,

                                                Your niece,

                                                Francine Green

Speaking of which, I’m due to write some thank-you notes myself.  Thankfully, irony won’t be necessary.  Except I think it’s hilarious that my grandfather still sends me a $10 bill for my birthday.

flower girls

Originally uploaded by jessmonster.

It’s happening, people! Right here, today, complete with a herd of flower girls. Normal blogging will resume after I’m no longer obligated to wear a pair of heels.

Oh Heavenly King (as Annie would say), I’m on vacation! It’s…indescribable. I had a weekend off. And yesterday, at a time of day when normally I would be shuffling a lot of paper and mentally cursing coworkers, I was eating dinner! And cleaning the fridge! And rearranging the art on my walls! And today? No work!

Please excuse all the exclamation points. This is a special time in my life. Normally I take my days off in snatches, one at a time. A Sunday here, a Saturday there.

Of course, the time is jam-packed. There are weddings (3), birthdays (2), rehearsals and rehearsal dinners (1 of each), and bachelorette parties (1), as well as things to pick up and things to drop off, flowers to pick, and pedicures to be had (that last one’s gonna be rough). But six whole days of No Work is pretty awesome.*

I even had time to finish another book, Libby Koponen’s Blow Out the Moon. Lovely. Nice chatty tone and an honest feel.

*Let’s ignore the fact that when most people get a “week of vacation,” that means two weekends and five workdays. I only get one weekend and four workdays. Eh.

A quarter of a century ago, my mom finished forty-eight hours of labor at home, my dad almost fell out the window, and when went to the hospital, the women-folk wouldn’t let the nurses have a look at me.

rope swing

Originally uploaded by jessmonster.

And what’s a wedding without a rope swing? The girl on the left is the daughter of one of my second grade classmates, and the girl on the swing is the daughter of one of the teachers.

Originally uploaded by jessmonster.

I never managed to get a picture of the bride and groom together, being a slacker photographer, but I love how comfortable my old old friend Mariana looks in this one. Dancing in her sandals on the church lawn.

Nikki McClure’s 2007 calendar is up. I can’t wait to have this picture on my wall.

So lately I’ve been listening to Five Red Herrings on audio-book.  Unfortunately, this book is not read by the fabulous Ian Carmichael, who’s read all the other Lord Peter Wimsey stories that I’ve listened to.  I’m too lazy to go out to my car and find out who IS reading this one, but it’s probably for the best because I’m about to dis his book-reading abilities.  I’m hoping the only reason he was chosen for this one is his ability to do a variety of Scottish accents (I can’t vouch for their authenticity, but they’re highly entertaining and various).  Because his interpretation of Lord Peter, Bunter, and Parker…well, they’re terrible.  Just eww.  LP comes across as too namby-pamby for words.  Bunter is an utter stereotypical butler and makes me want to gag.  Parker sounds like the fifth Beatle.

Ian Carmichael’s LP, on the other hand, is crisp and sensitive and hard-nosed and upper-crust while also making you laugh your pants off.  His Bunter IS Bunter.  His Parker is dignified and unfettered by a sloppy accent.

While we’re on the topic of audio-books, I have to admit a certain fondness for ones ‘read by the author.’  Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer is a good example (while the woman who reads most of her early books drives me up a wall).  Also Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.  I haven’t gotten around to them yet, but you can listen to Charlotte’s Web and A Wrinkle in Time read by the authors (I’m saving those for a rainy day).  And at work on Sunday I noticed that you can listen to Michael Chabon read Summerland.

I’m also particularly fond of rereading books on tape.  I don’t have to worry about getting distracted while driving and missing key plot points.  I know which books will transfer well to listening and which ones would be better read so I can move through the slow parts more quickly and take my time over other parts.

In other news, I recently finished Saving the World, which was good.  Not amazing.  It took me longer than I expected to get through it, and maybe I didn’t enjoy it more because I kept getting distracted from reading.  I probably also missed most of the foreshadowing because it took me so long.  It didn’t really affect the way I thought or felt, though, which I suppose is my mark of a Good Book.

I also reread Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, because it had been languishing on the library shelves for too long. I think EL Konigsburg is the only person to have had a Newbery Medal and Honor in the same year – and JHMWMAME (the Honor title) was her first book.  Not too shabby.  Especially not too shabby since she won a second medal 29 years after the first.  Plus, she’s not afraid of really long titles.

Meg Rosoff (author of the I-recommended-it, why-haven’t-you-read-it-yet? How I Live Now) has an interview on in which she reveals her fondness for Kate Seredy’s The Good Master.  Which is a pretty sure-fire way to win me over, although in her case it’s unnecessary – I’m already won over.  And looking forward to the new one, Just In Case, which I have on hold.

The Good Master is one of those books that I haven’t read recently but I recall vividly as being childhood-shaping.  The petticoats, oh the petticoats.  I always wanted to move to Hungary so I could wear so many.  And sleeping on the stove.  Time for a reread, I suspect.  And I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed on my own that Rosoff borrowed a bit of the plot for How I Live Now.  Clever.

i will!

Originally uploaded by jessmonster.

last summer, foreshadowing this summer.

August 2006

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