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I’m slouching around in my pajamas, drinking Irish Breakfast (what is so Irish about it, anyway?) and listening to class lectures and cleaning out the 100+ emails in my school account, when I’m overcome with a fit of zealousness and decide it’s time to dress and go for a nice long walk.

I’m about to pull on my bedraggled sneakers when I notice I have a new voicemail.  It’s the Katy-who-didn’t-leave-town-when-she-got-hitched, asking if I want to go for a hike with her & the girls.  Two hours ago.

But I call back anyway, because you never know how long it will take to leave the house with a three-year-old and a baby.  Turns out she had just been asking Q if she was ready for a walk, but she didn’t want to go without me.


Hopefully the paths won’t be too muddy and no one will slip and fall and embarrass themselves (ie, me).

In other news, I got my first address for the Modern Letter Project – yippee!  Now the pressure’s on…

Also in other news, I started The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B...and I’m hooked.  I think I read half of it yesterday.  Makes me endlessly happy that I don’t live in 18th century France.

Breakfast: freshly baked banana chocolate chip muffins, with wheat bran, an extra banana, coconut oil & egg replacer; pot of Constant Earl/Grey Comment tea. Delicious beyond compare.

It seems the coconut oil will work out. The muffins didn’t rise much but were an excellent texture, so I’m not sure which of my modifications to blame. I melted the oil, but perhaps it could just be softened and then whipped like butter? Directions on the precise use of coconut oil were not to be found. But my mind is much more at ease with my friend, the coconut than it is with my enemy, the unidentified pseudo-vegetable.

On the bookshelf (or by my bed or on the coffee table or sitting on my sewing basket):

  • Surrender – I had a hard time getting into this one – it’s hard to tell precisely what it going on and who to believe – but I have to find out what happens.
  • Peace Like a River – I got into it again, and then I put it down to read The Sea of Trolls for class. I’ll finish Surrender first.
  • Our Only May Amelia
  • Esperanza Rising
  • Accidents of Nature
  • The Autobiography of Henry VIII
  • The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.
  • Can You Forgive Her?

Clearly, some of these books have been there for a while. And don’t seem to be going anywhere. I really need to keep a tighter rein over my library holds (sometimes I feel like they’ve got a mind of their own. My relationship with my hold list is like that of a junkie – surely putting a couple more on won’t hurt me, I need to add them, I deserve to add them…

I’ve more or less abandoned the Winter Classics Challenge, but I’m glad I read the two that I did. Chances of my finishing Can You Forgive Her? AND Madame Bovary by Wednesday are, um, slim. I might squeeze in The BFG. That’s doable, 3 out of 5.

From Sea of Trolls, the most awesome book I’ve read this week. Okay, that isn’t saying much. But it is awesome, and if you’ve never read any Nancy Farmer, you are in for a treat. I’d only read The Ear, the Eye and the Arm before, but that was more than enough to convince me of her extra-ordinary word powers. Flawed heroes, bad guys that you grow to love, large-scale adventure, a hint of magic, Norse legends, bards, trolls, giant boars…oh, and a caution against pillaging: just say no.

“You’re not to join in the fight,” Olaf said.”

“Don’t worry,” said Jack.

“I know how exciting pillaging is,” the giant said fondly, ruffling Jack’s hair. It felt like a blow. “No matter how much you’re tempted, just say no.”

“Just say no to pillaging. You got it.”

What’s not to love? And how will I manage to write a review without gushing all over the class message boards?

Speaking of suffering, I have WAY too much lentil soup. If anyone wants some, come on over and dig in. It won’t go away, and I don’t like lentil soup that much.

I just got three books in the mail yesterday, and, God help me, I don’t know where to put them. I had an Amazon voucher – you know how it goes – and I think I can squeeze Anno’s Spain (new to me! dear, dear Anno) onto my picture book shelf. But I despair of finding a spot for The King of Attolia (which I want to marry) and Girl in a Tangerine Scarf…Maybe if I buy a new bookshelf?  Or two?  I recently saw a picture of a house where literally every wall was covered in built-in shelves/cubbies.  I want.

As Kate so aptly puts it, this plumber leaks half and half.  Or raw milk, as the case may be.  It is Day 2 and I am drinking coffee with milk.  Forgive me Lord, for I know not what I do…or rather why I couldn’t manage to drink up all my delicious delicious bacteria-ridden milk before I set sail on this sea of the fast.

Here’s the problem: a few years ago I got pretty good at making substitutions.  I had my vegan waffles and my tofu vegetable stir-fry and my soy ice cream and soy milk on cheerios and all that.  I know how to be vegan.  But it involves two things I’ve come to more or less loath: soy and vegetable oil.

Obviously, I prefer the flavor of my cow’s milk and my butter and my free-roaming chicken eggs (not to mention the cows and the chickens themselves), but I can eat the other stuff.  I won’t turn up my nose at some soy milk or a muffin made with hydrogenated vegetable oils.   But I have recently become against them on principle.  Especially the vegetable oils.  Oh Lord, the oils.  So, do I give up my principles for Lent?  Or do I give up my favorite food group, baked goods?  Or do I invest heavily in coconut oil?  There must be a way to be 1) Lenten 2) healthy and 3) bake without 4) eating people.

(Follow my reasoning here: margarine = people; therefore, margarine = animal product; therefore, good Orthodox Christians do not eat margarine, especially during Lent.)

Now that I’ve lost most of you, I’m off to replenish my store of honey for the tea-drinking season ahead.

But please, tell me what to eat.  Man cannot live on tea alone.

  • iced decaf sugar-free vanilla Americanos
  • ultra-pasteurized dairy products
  • replacing butter with margarine and/or vegetable oil unless under extreme duress
  • people who hate the rain on principle
  • 8am classes (okay, only two days out of the entire quarter but still)
  • why I can’t seem to get anything done
  • why I want more coffee when I know I’ve had enough
  • the Bridge to Terabithia movie trailer (I still kinda want to see the movie, but sleep through the special effects sections)

Quiet, grey, drippy morning.  So far the main excitement has been fresh sheets on the bed and finally getting around to rotating my duvet, so that the mysteriously extra-fluffy end is now by my head instead of my feet (my feet just didn’t appreciate the fluffiness enough, but that doesn’t explain why that end is so much fluffier).  Yeah.  It’s wild around here.  Later, I might even walk to the store.

I’m reading this article for class on virtual reference training, which gets surprisingly incomprehensible at times.  I mean, sheesh.  It’s supposed to be helpful, not confusing me.  Who taught these people to write?  Every couple sentences I’ll think, “oh, that makes sense.  Did they just start using English?”  Maybe my brain isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be…but I always wonder if everyone else feels the same way and BSes their way through the reading discussions.  Or do other people relish those stylistically inept sentences?

This is why I like reading YA books for homework…

In other news, I seem to have completely forgotten how to eat like a vegetarian, let alone a vegan.  It’s going to be an exciting 40 days…

Where have I been, and what have I been doing?*

I have no idea.

Reading?  Going to work?  Wearing striped socks to church?  Eating waffles?  Nibbling my way through an afternoon at a Mardi Gras (the Orthodox “get your lamb while you still can” version) party?

Sure, those all sound plausible.

Quick thoughts on what I’ve been reading:

The Thirteenth Tale: I’m moving slowly because I only listen to this as my bedtime story.  Thusly it is not, as the CD cover claims, depositing me “breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of [my] everyday life,” because as soon as I start to drift and think “wait, did I just miss a whole scene or was that a pause in the narration?” I turn it off, make a few rotations in bed, and fall asleep.  What I would love would be an ipod or somesuch that knew when you were losing consciousness and would promptly turn itself off (and remove its earbuds from your ears and place itself on your bedside table) so you were guaranteed not to miss a moment of the story.

(So far it hasn’t really influenced my dreams – last night TnEnLnJ were visiting Bif in the spacious mansion apartment over her wildly successful craft/bookstore (she, strangely for a librarian, turned the book ordering over to a partner and maintained the craft section herself).  It was spectacular, the whole figment, and I have no idea where it came from.)

Bridge to Terabithia: sobfest!  It’s one of those books that feels larger in your imagination.  I’d go back to reread a particularly poignant section and discover that the words on the page were really quite slight and simple, but what they created took up the whole room.  Will I see the movie?  I’m torn.  I’m pretty 110% sure that it could never feel as large, but that might be an inherent prejudice against unnecessary special effects.

Forever in Blue: okay, it’s crap.  But it’s addicting crap.  No matter how irritating certain elements were, I had to listen to the whole thing.


The Ghost Map: I can’t stop thinking about diseases (they seem to be coming up in conversation a lot lately) and how people live in cities.  Good stuff if effing repetitive narrative style.

An Abundance of Katherines: I’m about to review it for my YA class and it stood the test of a second read within four months admirably.  It’s also very difficult to decide which tasty tidbits to cover in the review.

Miss Pym Disposes:  I ate it up with a spoon.

Notes From the Midnight Driver: hilarious.  I’m pretty sure my dear roommate was mocking me for the way I chuckled over it, but I was too busy reading to take notice.

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City: I enjoyed it.  But not nearly as much as other people seem to have.  Fun, but I never really cared.

Up next:

  • Surrender
  • Story of a Girl
  • Peace Like a River (still)
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  • The Golden Compass
  • Reading Like a Writer
  • and all of those other things I already had on my bookshelf

*I seem to be having an Emily of New Moon day.

Listening to Forever in Blue (yes, the traveling pants) instead of lectures for class.  It’s my fluff listening.  It’s addicting.  Don’t judge me (too harshly).

Check out The Modern Letter Project.

P.S. My January book stats are up (and the beginning of February, too).  It feels like I didn’t read much last month, but I did start a new quarter and tackle two of my classics.  The rest of February might be devoted to Can You Forgive Her? and the bajillion audiobooks I have going on (Enduring Love on tape in the car, Forever in Blue (yes, the travelling pants strike again) in the CD player, The Thirteenth Tale on the iPod – I feel like I’m going crazy but don’t want to give any of them up).

Saturdays make me appreciate weekdays.

On weekdays, I’m allowed to wander freely in the daylight hours.  Sure, it’s winter and I spend most of my time cooped up inside, but I can go for a walk.  Or to the store.  Or sit and stare out the window.  I only have to go to work when it’s about to get dark (in winter, that is).

I have time to wake up in the mornings.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that…okay, two things: 1) I love mornings 2) only if they are leisurely.  I love the “oh look, the sun just came up and what nice fog” aspect of being on the streets at 7:30 am…but I don’t so much like the jumping in my car and speeding off to work part.

Friday-Saturday-Sunday can be, well, fairly debilitating.   Fridays start off nice, with all that library time, but then comes job #2, and the whole get-off-work-at-9:30pm and come-back-at-8:00am thing.  And working 9 1/2 hours on Saturday (boo-hoo, poor me).  And, oh look! I get to work Sunday, too.  At least Sundays are back with the books, my saving grace.

Speaking of, I AM GOING THROUGH WITHDRAWAL.  It’s been, like, 4 days since I read a YA novel and I’m getting jittery.  I started Can You Forgive Her? (awesomest title ever and deserving of a better adjective than ‘awesomest’) which is over 8-effing-hundred pages long.  If it weren’t for the Winter Classics Challenge, I might devise some elaborate way of drawing it out in a replica of 1860s serial novels.  Did they get one chapter at a time?  Apparently they devoured them.  I want to feel that way about this.  I can’t even really seem to settle down on a book lately, let alone devour.  Perhaps if I cut back on my blog reading…and called in sick to work…

I also need to give my periodic shout-out to Josephine Tey who knocks my socks off.  This time with Miss Pym Disposes, which I hadn’t read since probably high school.  It was the first Tey I ever read, back when I had all that undiscovered Tey-ness stretching out in front of me.  Now it’s almost all been reread, but fortunately I possess the knack of almost immediately forgetting the resolution of any plot, especially a mystery or suspense.  This is admittedly unfortunate when it comes to discussing books or reviewing them, but from a rereader’s standpoint it’s priceless.

February 2007

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