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Your Neighborhood Librarian tagged me for the 8 Things Meme (which, I recently learned but can’t remember how, rhymes with beam – I always thought of it as ‘me me’ as in ‘pick me!’) And I have just enough time to squeeze it in before I change out of pajamas into something more substantial (but less appealing in this weather) and head over to the police station.*

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

  1. I’ve pretty much stopped eating breakfast cereal, unless you count oatmeal. I’m more likely to make pancakes, have toast and cottage cheese, oatmeal, or bake muffins.
  2. I’m really good at remembering author’s names but terrible at remembering your name if I meet you. I need to see it written down.
  3. I have to read SOMETHING if I’m eating alone, even if it’s “Design of Controlled Vocabularies.”
  4. I can’t believe that anyone would pay $5 for a tiny tiny thing of fresh blueberries, blueberries that I could pick in under 60 seconds and consume in even less time.
  5. I’m aware of all the desserts in the house at any given time, particularly the chocolate.
  6. I can fix my hair in such a way that it is still wet 24 hours after washing it. On a hot day.
  7. I love getting glimpses into other people’s houses, especially on walks in the evening.
  8. I compulsively check library shelves for out of place items.

I tag whoever feels like it. I’m lazy/out of time.

*I work for the city. We’ve got training. I’m innocent.

That gorgeous Saturday I spent hunched over my computer doing subject indexing paid off.  A++++!  Actually, no, just a plain old 4.0, but as that’s the best you can do (no A++++ in grad school) and the best I’ve ever done on an assignment so far – I call it a victory.  Especially since I wasn’t at all expecting such a good grade, and in fact opened the email with much trepidation.

Which reminds me that I really ought to be catching up on what I meant to do last week before I got sidetracked by pain and snot.

But let’s talk about my other illustrious accomplishments instead.  Sunday was my parents’ annual Turkey Dinner in May, and my crisp and I placed proudly at 2nd place in the side dish contest.  Unfortunately my prize was a huge Thanksgiving themed table/hat playing “Turkey in the Straw” when you press a wing, but I’m not complaining as I munch the leftover crisp.  Rhubarb-strawberry-marionberry, from this Mixed Berry Crisp recipe.  And again with the hilarious comments on recipes online, but I noticed a comment saying the topping ought to be doubled…and here I was thinking the topping was a bit excessive, although quite tasty.  To be honest, I did very roughly double the entire recipe, but still.  And that’s the last of last summer’s berries.  Time to go strawberry picking with Di and in turn introduce her to the joys of the church blueberries when the time is ripe.

I can’t stop reading.  It’s all I want to do, besides lie in the sun and bake (as in, crisps and pastries, not as in bake myself) and alternate cups of coffee and tea.  I whizzed through a couple slim YA books over the weekend, despite working, and now am firmly into Miss Garnet’s Angel, which is calling to me right now.

So much to do!  Can it be June 7th already with my last 2 assignments safely turned in, so that I can take care of everything else?

It’s before noon!  And I’m not sitting in bed!  Sheesh, I’m sick of my bed.  First the women’s extreme-adventure on Monday led to lots of laying in bed, and then yesterday I slept for ten hours and woke up with a killer sore throat, headache, and runny nose.  And sat in bed reading because why get up?  These are the times that being a carefree, childless, work-in-the-evening person really pay off.  But today I’m up and about and yes, blowing my nose an awful lot, but all things considered, it’s not bad.

I’m rereading Inkheart, so that I can formulate some intelligent thoughts and make a few bucks, and as much as I found it hard going the first time, I’m totally falling for it this time.  Maybe I’m thinking more about themes and characters and ignoring the language.  I was telling Kitri about the flat translation phenomenon, and she used her mad German skills to explain that German has a fraction of the number of words that English does, and that stories in German are pretty straightforward and plain.  Which certainly sheds some light on the situation and makes me more forgiving of the translation.

Speaking of Germany, I keep meaning to send you to my dear friend Lis’s chronicle of her year in Germany with her husband.  Go.  She’s got an awesome story about a standing ovation received while running.

Sitting around waiting for me to read them:

  • Roller Skates
  • Now is the Hour (I don’t know if I’ll actually read this – my fellow literature nerd stuck at corporate job, whose opinion I trust, said it’s good, but meh, I’m not drawn into the first few pages.  Anyone?  Thoughts?)
  • The Last September
  • Water for Elephants (on CD – for the ipod as soon as The Double Bind is done)
  • Milkweed (ditto)
  • The Boyfriend List

On the topic of parents in children’s books, I’m reminded of a book that Bronwen pointed me towards called Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children’s Literature.  I seem to recall a chapter on the orphan phenomenon.  I think I’ll start reporting back on each book I read, if only for my own amusement.  The status of parents in a given book probably depends as much on the author’s own experience as on what they think children want to read about.  Or do children latch on to, and turn into classics, the orphan stories rather than the nice parent stories, in general?  Of course there are exceptions, but my goodness.   If you started putting “orphan” stickers on children’s books (instead of mystery, or adventure, or horses) I’m guessing it would be a huge segment of the collection.

Imaginary library conversation:  “Hi, I’m looking for a recommendation for my daughter.”  “What are some other books she likes?”  “Oh, Harry Potter, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan…”  “Let me take to the Orphan Section.  Has she tried Anne of Green Gables?”

Yesterday afternoon I walked over to the neighborhood farmer’s market, and I realized that it was that time of day known as “after school.”  It was decently warm, and there were kids out on every block.  Skateboards, sidewalk chalk, walking to and fro.  It got me thinking how we order our days.  How 3:30 means one thing when you’re me (farmer’s market is open, then time to go to work) and something entirely different for a kid in school, and something else if you’ve got a kid coming home from school, and something else if you’re sitting at a 9-5 job.

I tried a new cheese vendor at the market – Black Sheep – and chatted about dill (there was a dill and garlic variety, but I went plain) and gardens and all the good cheese at the markets.  I think that will be my little summer splurge, a different new cheese every week or so.  This one is very soft and spready, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it.  Maybe on bread, with some olives.  Or in a sandwich.  Or on a salad, with fresh dill.  I also picked up STRAWBERRIES.  I’ve been seeing them at the Four Seasons for a while, but they’ve been California berries and I wanted to hold out for homegrown.  These came from Hubbard (which always makes me think of Old Mother Hubbard, and somehow that seems appropriate to a farmer’s market) and are delicious.  I keep singing little strawberry songs as I eat them.

I’ve mysteriously created a huge pyramid of books to take back to the library.  (Yes, a pyramid, because I’m obsessive and stack according to size.)  You’d think, being swamped with schoolwork as I am, that I wouldn’t be reading much, but the opposite seems to be true.

Books from the return pile that I haven’t mentioned yet:

Penina Levine is a Hard-Boiled Egg.  (Rebecca O’Connell) Wait, why did I read this?  Because BabelBabe didn’t like it and wanted a second opinion?   Oops, no, that’s not it.  She was bothered by the characterization of the parents and wanted a second opinion.  I agree.  I kept waiting (as the oldest child, ahem – and by the way, happy 22nd to my little sister) for Mimsy to get her comeuppance.  Because she may have been right, but she was a tattletale about petty stuff.  I think I’m more used to seeing flawed parents in children’s books – but not this brand of flawed parent.  At any rate, while part of me sympathized with Penina for being the religious outsider (rebelling against attending mass in honor of the Immaculate Conception, anyone?) I also found her profoundly irritating on some level.  I got an odd sense of struggle between doing something new and interesting with the story, and tying things up too nicely.  In the end I would call it unmemorable, but look at how much I found to say about it?  Parents in children’s lit is a great topic…

The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery.  (Nancy Springer) Sweet!  Another fab mystery to recommend to my clientele.  And speaking of parents…this fits the classic mold of ‘get the parents out of the picture so that action can start.’  Literally, what sets the whole thing off is the disappearance of Enola’s mother (that would be Sherlock’s mother, too) which her older brothers dismiss but Enola sets out to explain.  The format was a good way to juxtapose the 1880s idea of a proper young lady with a character that a modern girl would understand.  Being of Enola’s unusual upbringing, she’s more of a suffragette in the making than a true 1880s girl, and so the way she carries on doesn’t feel as anachronistic and it would with a more typically raised girl.  I’m looking forward to the next one.

ARE there any good children’s books with present and decent parents?

Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading.  (Maureen Corrigan)  Not as cozy a look at a reader as, say, Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris, more meaty-essay in format, but reading the chapter on “Women’s Extreme-Adventure Stories” was a good distraction for my own morning of a women’s extreme-adventure story (although mine, though thoroughly feminine in nature, sadly bore too much of the physical endurance qualities of a more traditional extreme-adventure).  Trust me, you either don’t want details or you can imagine them well enough on your own.

I think it might be time to move straight from breakfast (the part I managed to keep down) to rhubarb-boysenberry-raspberry crisp, don’t you?  I’m not getting anything done today.

Speaking of not getting anything done, the new-ish McMenamins on Killingsworth (Chapel Pub) is having a benefit night for my cousins’ school, 5-close.  I’ll be there after work.  What’s better than having a beer in a former chapel to give money to schools?  Not a whole lot.  Looks like there are benefits at quite a few different locations tonight.

A while back, Anne compared me to a combination of Martha Abbott and Ivy Carson, which of course made me go grab a copy of The Changeling off the library shelf (autographed: “Greetings from Zilpha Snyder”). I had a huge Snyder kick, probably in middle school – something about her books appealed hugely to my kind of imagination. And yes, I am a combination of Martha and Ivy. I’ve got Martha’s holding back, and being the one who latches onto a more spontaneous friend. I’ve got a bit of Ivy’s dancing and imagination.

One of the things that struck me most about the whole book (and as far as I remember this is true of all of ZKS’s books) was how well she captures the way children imagine and play and interact with each other. The way certain spots are magic – the grove of trees, the stone – and the way others are frightening but magnetic, like the burnt-out house. An original mythology. The way a game changes and evolves from a near-religious belief to a performance, an acting out. The sense of going through phases, and changing without being aware of it at the time, and the way you realize you are different in front of different people.

I also love that Martha becomes herself in high school. She gets most of the pain and angst out of the way in middle school (how true, how true) and settles down to true Martha-ness. I don’t think I was quite so much myself in high school (not to the degree that I am now, but I suppose that’s only natural) but 9th grade certainly was a big sigh of relief after middle school.

And speaking of changelings…let me plug The New Policeman again. GO READ IT. It’s really like a slightly simpler, Irish version of Summerland, which, go read that, too, while you’re at it. YA books that work equally well or perhaps even better for adults. A bit of magic and folktales and legends, a quest, a flawed hero. It really needs an accompanying CD, though, so those of us who don’t read music can hear the traditional songs that end (and title) each chapter. Don’t know what it has to do with changelings? Check it out. I still hold that it’s the perfect book for anyone who feels there isn’t enough time in the day…

Taken from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, the list of seven good things on a Sunday.

  1. Rain – it’s better at getting up early to water the garden than I am.
  2. Warm doughnuts from the farmer’s market.
  3. Little Miss M was one yesterday. Hard to believe.
  4. Multiple invasions of personal bubble at church (are these people blind?) redeemed by barely surpressed laughter with Annie as we both called the next invader.
  5. First live storytelling better than hoped. So much easier than repeating it over and over to myself.
  6. Not only did the kids sit and listen nicely, one asked if I was going to teach Sunday School again next year. I take that as a compliment on either 1) mad storytelling skills 2) letting them get away with more than the current teachers or 3) beautifully improvised lesson plans. Ahem.
  7. Reading The New Policeman (Kate Thompson) is the perfect antidote to a Saturday spent doing homework. Five stars. Recommended for anyone who feels like they don’t have enough time. I think time slowed down a little while I read it. Also good for fans of Summerland, Irish mythology and folktales, and music. Delicious.

You can call me Procrastination Central from now on.

How to Make Potato Salad

  1. Discover dill in garden.   Eye potatoes growing eyes.
  2. Pretend you have plenty of time to finish your derived and controlled vocabulary indexing later.
  3. Scrub potatoes while considering the possibility of planting them next year.
  4. Set eggs to hard boiling and potatoes to boiling.
  5. Consult three cookbooks (Enchanted Broccoli Forest, Betty Crocker, Nourishing Traditions) before settling on combination of recipes.
  6. In order to extract the greatest amount of mustard from the jar, pour (apple cider) vinegar into a measured 2 tablespoon shot glass.  Pour vinegar into jar and shake.
  7. Add mayo and the use-it-now-or-toss-it yogurt.
  8. Add “snipped” dill from garden and diced celery.
  9. Blog while waiting for things to finish boiling.
  10. Consider eating a slice of chocolate cake while you wait.

Where did all this dill come from?  I don’t even remember having dill last year.  Kate?  Did you have dill?  It’s taken over a whole corner of the garden bed.  And, hiding under the billowing dill, dozens of tiny tomato plants.

Yes, the same plant that I didn’t think we had any of and so went out and bought a starter at the plant sale.  Sigh.  I tried thinning them out a little bit, moving them from amongst the dill over to the other side, but I know it will just turn into a mass of barely supported tomato one day.  Do I line them up along the fence?  Dump them in the dark of night into the neighbors’ beds? Tomato season seems eons away, but I’m reasonably sure that I’ll wake up tomorrow and have bushels of tomatoes that need canning this instant.

Not that I know how to can.

The mints are thriving, of course, and the million tiny things that will hopefully be gorgeous flowers, and there’s something else that I hope is basil, but that could be wishful thinking.

I’d much rather rearrange the spontaneous seedling garden than work on Subject Analysis and Indexing, wouldn’t you?  Or make potato salad with some of that fresh dill, I’d really like to do that.  Or make that crisp.  Or write up my thoughts on The Changeling.  Or read The New Policeman.  Or go for a bike ride.  Or clean the bathroom.  Or fold my laundry.

And of course it was my storytelling prof who extended the deadline, not the cataloging prof.   Which doesn’t mean I don’t still need to practice my telling of Daniel in the Lion’s Den for the world’s most demanding Sunday school class tomorrow.  Practice?  I meant learn.  There’s a reason I picked a story I already basically know.

Is it summer break yet?

Lifted from babelbabe.

A book that made you cry: Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson, The Kitchen God’s Wife, Amy Tan

A book that scared you: The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova (not a lot, but I don’t tend to read scary books at all)

A book that made you laugh: Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris (anything of his)

A book that disgusted you: if I’ve read any I’ve blocked out their titles

A book you loved in elementary school: The Little House series, Chronicles of Narnia, All of a Kind Family

A book you loved in junior high: The Giver, Lois Lowry.  I loved her Anastasia books, too, and anything by Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Madeleine L’Engle, L.M. Montgomery
A book you loved in high school: I started reading Dorothy Sayers, Elizabeth Peters, Elizabeth Goudge.  I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany from my senior English class.

A book you hated in high school: As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner.  Hands down.

A book you loved in college: The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver.  I think I started reading her in high school, but I distinctly remember trotting around the English countryside with a copy of PB in my backpack.

A book that challenged your identity: Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg.  I haven’t looked at it in ages, but it got me to think of myself as a writer.

A series that you love: Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey series

Comfort books: L.M. Montgomery – Anne, Emily, The Blue Castle; Pride and Prejudice

Your favorite horror book: see answer to disgusting books question

Your favorite science fiction book: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm, Nancy Farmer

Your favorite fantasy book: Toss-up between The Thief and sequels and The Blue Sword

Your favorite mystery book: Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers or maybe Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time

Your favorite graphic novel: I’m so behind on the graphic novel thing.  American Born Chinese was excellent, but not precisely a favorite.

Your favorite biography: I’m not much of a biography reader.  I just flip through for the pictures.

Your favorite “coming-of-age” book: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, M.T. Anderson (I’m just going to assume I’ll love Volume 2, too), or maybe Daddy Long Legs, Jean Webster

Your favorite classic: Pride and Prejudice.

Your favorite romance book: oh goodness, I’d probably have to say a Rosamunde Pilcher, but the titles all run together

Favorite kids’ book: The Maggie B, Irene Haas. I have to stop at one because otherwise it will never end, but I do have to say I’m quite taken with Paul Galdone’s version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, especially after looking at other really crappy illustrations (TTBGG is my next story for class).

Favorite cookbook: shockingly, I don’t have one.  I am a fan of Nourishing Traditions, but I pull my baking recipes from elsewhere.

Your favorite book not on this list: Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson, Fugitive Pieces, Anne Michaels, Atonement, Ian McEwan…um, see the tab at the top that says “read these”?  All those.

Even though I wanted nothing so much as to crawl into bed and fall asleep (dry schoolwork + sweltering heat at work (I really ought to see how much hotter it is in the warehouse than outside) + a glass of wine) I stayed up to finish A Northern Light.  Kitri read it ages ago and couldn’t stop singing its praises, and finally I got around to it.  It was one of those books that I knew would be good, but just didn’t sound exciting.  But once you crack it open, you’re flying through it like nobodies business.  Scrumptious narrator – told in first person, so you’d think you could only see what she sees, but she lets you see so much more.  I felt like I was there, living in not-even-a-town in 1906.  Slightly claustrophobic.  The flaws were minor – the schoolteacher subplot felt a bit too pat – and not to spoil the ending, but what kind of college keeps a scholarship for you after you turn it down?  But on the whole – I say go read it.  So do the Young Readers’ Choice Awards.

May 2007

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