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I just read through the 1973 showdown between Eleanor Cameron and Roald Dahl on the Horn Book website (via Bookshelves of Doom), and from there I jumped to reading the old pronunciation guide to authors’ names by Jon Scieszka.

How do you pronounce the capital of South Dakota, Lane Smith? PEER

Can I buy you a drink, Esphyr Slobodkina? ken I bie u uh drink, es FEAR sloe BOD kin uh?

Do you mind if I smoke, Theodore Geisel? du yu mynd if I smoke, DAHK ter SOOS?

Okay, some of it is actually useful. I few I knew, but I appreciated Mr. Scieszka hammering home the point about his own name, because I had NO IDEA. I just don’t say a name out loud if I don’t know. I might have to print this out and tape it up in our children’s department…

I just rode my new bicycle to my milk-dealer’s house, which is six blocks down and three blocks over, not very far at all, to return an empty jar and pick up a fresh one.  Which is slightly terrifying, carrying jars of milk in a backpack, in the sense that ‘what if I fall over, if I am forced to a sudden stop by a car pulling out of a driveway or because of my incurably wobbling starts, and the half gallon of milk is shattered, leaving shards of glass and pools of milk, perhaps mixed with my own blood, and I am bruised and wounded and must get myself home as the unpasteurized goodness flows down the street, lacking only a drizzle of honey to stop me from being escorted to heaven?’  Because these are the things that go through my head when I throw one leg over the bike and push off.

Thankfully, no.  The ride was as smooth as an incredibly bumpy, perhaps paved in the early days of the last century, road can be.  There are smoother streets certainly, but they involve trickier street crossings, more stop signs, and more pedaling down congested streets.  Congestion makes my heart rate soar and while that perhaps results in better exercise, it often leads to increased wobbliness.

But.  I love coasting down the street.  There is nothing like it.  Or the thrill of a incline (down, not up).

While I was conducting my milk-dealings, the children inspected my bike, declared it to be used (duh) and put it into every possible gear, asking questions I couldn’t answer and showing off the features of their own bikes.  Oh, to have the inexhaustible (but exhausting) enthusiasm of children.

Speaking of the benefits of being 25 (the bike was my birthday gift, have I mentioned this?) I recently got a letter from my auto insurance agent which contained the delightful phrase: “your premium for the current policy period has been decreased by a total of $104.70.”  I am now a proper adult in the eyes of the automobile.

jess & lily

Originally uploaded by jessmonster.

Yes. Yes! Another one! I suppose I can excuse Lily from my previous tirades since she had the decency to wait until September, but really. It’s an epidemic. Here are Lily & I back in the good ol’ days of 4-H camp. In an interesting turn of events, I ended up swimmy-dipping in the same water hole in college.



serenity now, new blue walls

Originally uploaded by jessmonster.

The payoff for inhaling paint fumes until 11:30 pm.

My ability to get rid of things goes back and forth.  One day will find me hoarding old stationary, pillows, and worn-out shirts like there’s no tomorrow.  The next, I’m furiously cleaning out my closet, or under the bed, or my sock drawer.  I’m filling bags with recycling and garbage and making money at garage sales.

Sometimes it seems right and good to hold onto things – old letters, for instance, should never be tossed in the trash.  I believe in the concept of handing things down from generation to generation, even if it’s my great-grandmother’s slightly ratty rocker.  I want things that last, not things that are disposable.  But things that can also be reinvented and stay fresh.  Someday I’ll reupholster it.  But it will still remind me of Laura Belle and the apartment she lived in until the day of her death.  Also of Max, a cat who loved the chair and generously bestowed his fur on it.  Some things hold too many memories to be gotten rid of lightly.

But the rest?  Beauty and usefulness only.  Preferably both.

I’ve lost a roommate, and gained a new one, and in the process the house gets taken apart and put back together.  It’s a good time to clean out that cupboard above the stove, or find a new place to keep tupperware, or line up foodstuffs in glass jars instead of messy bags.  To repaint and reconsider the art on my walls.  To clean out under the bathroom sink.  To find better ways of storing things (better than heaps on my bedroom floor).  To clear out and start afresh.  It’s addicting.  One morning, after painting till 11:30 the night before, I rolled off the couch (the fumes were too much in my room) and immediately set to work putting my room to rights.

It’s the putting back together that I really love.  I hate ends of eras, and seeing all of Kate’s things gone, I hate leaving places, but the starting over?  Bliss.

Now I’m off to get a free meal from my folks.
*Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art.” **

**EB now always reminds me simultaneously of reading her in a college course on “Travel and the American Literary Imagination” – “And have we room/ for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?” – and a story I once wrote in which a volume of her poetry figured quite prominently.

I have pictures, which I’m currently too lazy to upload, which would show you the fruits of my recent labors and prove to you have I have not been sitting around eating bonbons while I neglect my blog (actually, I have been sitting around eating Moonstruck chocolates (an assortment handpicked by Lis & Toni for my birthday) but that’s beside the point). What have I been doing, you ask?

1. Outfitting & riding my NEW BICYCLE. Yes, I’m a big girl now and get a grown-up bike. My dad and I were unloading it from his van, which was silly because the bike store is mere moments away but I did not own a helmet yet! And I’m damn wobbly and won’t be caught dead without my helmet. Anyway, this small boy rode by on his bike, with training wheels, and was impressed by my bike (because it’s awesome and red) and was even more impressed when I told him it was a birthday present. I like gifts that small children can be impressed by.

Anyway, then I tried riding to the library (for a retirement reception. Which I don’t believe, really, because she’s been there since I started going there as a mere kidling. And hired me) which is apparently a whole two miles away, which is mere piffle on a bike, except on the way home when you realize, oh yes, this is a slight incline and it is kicking my butt. Or rather, my leg muscles.

2. Painting my room a darling shade of light blue known as “fond farewell.” I am exceedingly fond of it and do not wish to bid it farewell any time soon.

3. Working on not going OCD batshit over the rest of the apartment.  Which consists entirely of furniture buried under moving boxes.  On top of a really dirty floor.  Which we were too busy to sweep before, and now there are just tiny exposed patches of filth.

4.  Working.  OF COURSE.

5.  Reading.  Happy All the Time, Defining Dulcie, Gaudy Night (on tape).  Oh how I love Gaudy Night.  Although it is currently in that slightly slow stretch of pure detection and poison pens and no Lord Peter, although he shall presently be called to the scene and the sexual tension will ensue.

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