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First there was this:

wedding

And then there was this:

hawaii

And this:

And of course lots of time actually at the beach and in the water, but no photos of that.

And now there’s an apartment with gifts piled in the corners, waiting for homes (I either need a few apartment or some very creative storage solutions).  And thank yous to write.  And all kinds of things that have been neglected over the last few weeks and months.  And an incredible number of books that I put on hold “to read on vacation” and never got around to opening.  And a husband.

I went to the Scholastic warehouse sale today – basically it’s like Costco but with books.  Enormous shelves piled with children’s books, presumably leftover from all the book sales at schools and such, and teachers and librarians and other bookish types wandering the aisles with shopping carts.  Fortunately, it’s not as crowded as Costco, or as overstimulating.  It’s possible, for instance, to push two – TWO – full shopping carts of books to the checkout area.

Yeah, I bought 456 books – paid for by the Friends of the Library, to be given away to kids and teens who finish the summer reading program.  The two other children’s librarians are going later this week – we still need all the picture books, board books, beginning readers, and dozens more chapter books.  I figured two full carts was a good time to call it quits, even if I hadn’t checked everything off my list (drat those fat, fat chapter books).

I’m tired just thinking back on it, but it’s a lot of fun – only my second trip to one of the warehouse sales, and I’m developing my technique.  Although I think I slipped somewhere because I should’ve ended up with multiples of 5…oh well.  Time to go crawl into bed with a book.

I don’t seem to be forming my thoughts into anything coherent enough to write about here, and I can’t take my pictures off my camera until I get home, and, well, I’m busy socializing.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time down on the farm.  It was perhaps the closest I’ve ever come to really enjoying animals – there were just so many options.  I could try my hand at milking goats, I could watch Kate milk the goats (much more expertly), I could watch Taz watch the rabbits, I could eat the rabbits,  I could scatter past-their-prime tomatoes and grapes (and leftover pancakes) for the chickens, particularly enjoying the moments when handfuls bounced off the goats, who wanted to see what was so exciting.  I think I enjoyed the bouncing a little much.  I went for a nice walk with Taz and took pictures of the trees and views and such, and I even snapped a few of the goats, but I never once took a picture of my dear friends.  Or their jealousy-inducing kitchen.

At any rate, now I’ve made my way further south and am giving the PhD-track lifestyle a try.  I’m also getting in some quality Indian summer, although not really Indian summer because it’s California and just is this way, but a personal Indian summer.  So I can go home and enjoy the rain.

In book news (and there’s always book news) I finished up Coraline, which was interesting but really, what was all the fuss about?  I expected it to be much creepier and chilling.  Now I’m getting into Nancy Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion, which has all kinds of medals plastered on the cover just in case I didn’t already trust Ms. Farmer to deliver the goods.  Really, when is that woman going to get a Newbery?  Enough with the Newbery Honors.  She’s someone I can count on to take a subject matter that I don’t particularly care about and make it fascinating.  I was low on library books before I left on this trip, so I pulled a couple off my shelf that I’d bought but never got around to – so I feel virtuous and entertained.

Here I am, in the land of red couch fever, where the couches are really beige and the real red couch is still sitting in your own living room, and I’m discovering some interesting things.  First of all, when you announce you’re visiting and your friend says, great, “maybe we’ll kill something in your honor,” this should be translated as “you really ought to remind me a few days before because I might go to a wedding that I forgot to tell you about.”  Don’t leave it till you arrive at the airport and call to say you’re on your way and no one answers.  Or you call when you’re a few minutes outside town and no one answers.  Or you’re driving around town trying to find their street and no one answers.

Whether or not anything has been killed in my honor, I’ve yet to find out.  Fortunately, the inlaws live next door and fed me pizza, and the door is unlocked and I’m making myself at home.  Kate’s never going to live this one down.

Okay, perhaps I’m enjoying this too much.  Otherwise, the first day of my trip has been uneventful.  I finished Songs Without Words on the plane, and as I said in a comment, I liked it and wanted to finish it, but I never fell in love.  There were moments and characters that struck me, but it never transcended.  But I think if you enjoyed her first book, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, you’d enjoy this one.  Similar in that they’re about people grappling with tough times and their relationships with others as they deal with things they never thought they’d have to deal with.

In the car (I accidentally took the wrong route but ended up with a nice touristy jaunt over the Golden Gate Bridge, so all was well) I started listening to A Certain Slant of Light.  I rewound it a few tracks in because I’d been so focused on driving that I’d missed a bunch, and when it started over it didn’t replay the bits I’d remembered, and the story was kind of confusing, and I rewound it again and then noticed that the CD player in the rental car had been set to random.  So no wonder it was confusing.  Once I finally got it playing in the correct order, I got into it.  I’m not really sure where it’s going, but I’m intrigued.

In other news, I’m annoyed that Kate has discs 4 and 5 of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, but not 1-3.  And as much as I don’t want to like GA, it’s an addicting little show and there’s a strong pull to just put in disc 4 and watch it.

I like how I came all this way to, um, blog.

I’m still reading Middlemarch, chugging along and enjoying myself as long as I’m alert enough to really pay attention.  It’s no beach book, Middlemarch, which is why I cheated on it and brought The Off-Season with me to Hug Point on Saturday.  It was all lovely lovely let’s spread our blankets in the warm sand and apply some sunscreen and munch down on a delicious picnic, running back and forth from the waves to the blanket when we needed cooling down.  Until, of course, ominous drops of rain starting falling.  Okay, it was just a mist for a while, and I thought “I can handle this” and kept on reading, but then it reached the point where I had to decide whether or not to preserve the integrity of my library book, plus the blankets were wet, plus we were all starting to look like drowned rats, plus it was raining a lot harder.  So we packed up and drove into Cannon Beach for a couple of pints.  And some fish and chips.

Anyway, The Off-Season had much the same feel of Dairy Queen, to which it is the sequel, but the plot was no copycat and the ending was not what I expected in one department, in a completely realistic and character-growth sort of way.  I totally want another sequel.   Perfect for laying on the couch and trying to read away a headache, perhaps a result of two much beach or not enough water or not eating until after church.   It was not a result of too much birthday, because that was still to come (the two much part, as the actual birthday was long past), and too much birthday will result in me running around using coffee cards and Powell’s cards and cash gifts for a new bookshelf.

New!

Bookshelf!

I really need one.  Kitri really needs one, too, given the way books sort of spill off the one in her room.  Hopefully we won’t, between us, fill this one up and then think we need yet another.

Sunday was all barbecues and cake and ice cream and badminton and more picnic, I even have two cupcakes left, waiting patiently for me, and chocolate bar that made its way into my bag in the course of the beach trip.

Having an actual weekend off is just too exhausting.

I’m alive, but apparently I don’t have much to say. Apparently that’s what happens when I don’t spend as much time on the computer…

Klamath Falls was a success, unless you’re my mom who couldn’t seem to make exits. We’d be driving along, talking about stopping in Eugene and looking around the U of O campus, and I’d pull out the atlas to look at something and say, “um, Mom? I think we’re about 10 miles past Eugene.” Apparently you can blink and pass the Eugene exits, at least if you’re her. She blames us for not keeping a better eye on the exits. Then there was the whole Crater Lake incident, in which we again drove past two different routes before realizing and turning around. Again, where did the blame fall? On all of us. Notice that the other person who drove half the time (cough, me) didn’t miss any exits. But we survived! And didn’t kill each other! And I finally made it to one of those famous Northwest landmarks that everyone and their brother has been to except me (next up, Mt. St. Helens).

There was a lot of rearranging things to fit in the car, milkshakes, a run-in with a tornado of bugs (got to wait for Joe’s pictures for that).

Since then, there’s been badminton, birthday cake, ribs, strawberry picking, crisp, sewing, tearing hair over tiny garments, modern letters, roast beets, local lamb, and a tiny bit of reading.

Volume 1: So Far

Visited Town Pocket in Oly, which was a lot of relaxing.  Sitting around fending off the affections of her cat, drinking cocktails, trying on jewelry, eating brunch, watching terrible, horrible movies (if you ever consider watching one called Palindromes, just don’t).  I raided her bookshelf and somehow managed to read an entire book in my 37 hour visit.  I just couldn’t stop myself.

When I got home, the whole book addiction thing continued.  After 2 hours of Bel Canto, I found myself bringing the tapes into the house and listening to the rest of the book.  Which ended just in time for me to compose myself before heading to work.  It was one of those books that fools you into thinking, “maybe there will be a happy ending” just as the characters are lulled into thinking the same thing.  And then, you can imagine.  Well worth being put through the wringer, though.  And I got lots of things done while I listened, like laundry and dishes and sweeping and unpacking.

Today I pretended to be productive.  I did things like visit the new bookstore around the corner, pretending that I was looking for a book for father’s day but really just perusing the new fiction section and spotting several interesting titles that I’ve already forgotten.

Now it’s all iced coffee and blog reading and pulling weeds from the garden and admiring the things that are finally willing to bloom.

Wearing shorts for the third time in a week.  Ought to be doing an assignment, but it’s muggy and my brain is thick and sluggish.  Glass after glass of water with mint from the garden.  I keep biting the leaves.  There’s more where they came from.

I need to get out my camera more often.  I wished I had it at church today as we frolicked on the lawn afterwards with Q & M.  Last night after vespers there were deer in the long grass by the blueberry bushes, watching us and then getting on with their business of eating.

It’s hard to tear yourself away, even if it’s to go to the farmer’s market and pick up a bunch of carrots and get a sausage and sourkraut for lunch and then have iced coffee on the city hall lawn.  And then go browse the travel section at the library.  I almost never browse at the library, but Annie wanted books on New Zealand, and I started looking at a book of old Portland houses (mostly demolished by now) and Jane pulled out a book on skin diseases.

The reference librarian gave me this horrified “why are you here on your day off?” look,  but it’s kind of fun to pretend to be a normal person off the street.  Not that I didn’t adore every moment of signing up summer readers yesterday, but it’s nice to step back to the other side now and then.

Upcoming adventures include strawberry picking tomorrow.  Going to Klamath Falls to pick up the little brother from college – it’s suddenly turned into an extravaganza.  Originally just my mom and I splitting the driving, now my sister is coming, and we’re giving one of his friends a ride, and oh why don’t we stop at Crater Lake on the way back.  Plus an invitation to join several families from church on weekly expeditions to a nearby lake, where we used to go for summer picnics and paddle-boat rides and swimming.  They said it’s okay if I read the entire time.  Unlikely, but either way I enjoy my nostalgia and kid-time.

Did you know that Jessmonster anagrams into Jest Sermons?  Now you do.

I’ve discovered a great thing to do with challenged books.   If rumor has it that they’re lacking in moral fiber, just take them to your neighborhood pub and read them over a beer and some fries.  That’s what I did to The Bermudez Triangle after work on Wednesday.  I tucked it in my bag and walked it on over, and we sat down at the only free seat and ordered ourselves a pint and sprinkled malt vinegar on our fries and listened to the large group of people singing oldtimey ballads and such.

No, I’m not kidding about that last part.  I was just tucking into the books and the fries when I hear them burst into song.  At first it sounds like they’re just singing on a whim, perhaps they had a few pints too many, but they sound far too good for that.  Turns out they’re a group that gets together and sings traditional English songs and such.  Because they just kept singing.  So I had musical accompaniment for all that moral fiber.  I mean, beer.

Next up on the reading list was The Mysterious Benedict Society, and I’ve just thought of the perfect child to recommend it to.  It felt like a cross between The Westing Game and A Series of Unfortunate Events…with fab illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.  In fact, I would’ve liked to see more illustrations and perhaps the text cut down a wee bit.  I kept thinking “surely I must be further along than this.”  But no.  Plenty of riddles and smart characters and adventure and orphans, all good, but I didn’t particularly attach to any of the characters.  But fun all the same.  Great names.  An island called Nomansan Island.  A character named Kate who would prefer to be known as The Great Kate Weather Machine.  I was able to read through the cryptic messages pretty quickly but I felt totally stumped when it came to some things – like the note at the end saying that you can figure out Mr. Benedict’s first name “if you are acquainted with the code.”  What code?  I feel very dim.  Also, there’s a character named Ledroptha Curtain – a name that you know must be a reference/puzzle, like Nomansan Island – but for the life of my I can’t figure it out.  I’m off to explore the website in the vain hope that all will be explained to poor me.

Today was Get Back on That Bike Day chez Jessmonster.  I admit, I was reasonably terrified.  I defy that bit of folk wisdom about never forgetting how to ride a bike – and I had bruises last summer to prove it – so it was a challenge getting back on after half a year of whining that it was too cold, rainy, windy, etc. to ride. Thankfully, half a year is not enough time for even me to forget how, and I had a lovely, sunshiney, slightly sweaty ride to the library and back (nearly 4 miles total).

Apparently though, one measly bike ride is enough to exhaust my energies for the day and leave me unable to complete any reading for school.  Which is really what I OUGHT to be doing.  But, oh look, it’s almost time to go to work.

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