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Please excuse the silence on this end – all my reading has been one-handed for the last few weeks, and typing one-handed isn’t my favorite thing. Here’s my excuse:

baby

 

We seem to be getting into a bit of a routine, 5 weeks into it, and I’m in the curious position of feeling like my time isn’t my own and like I have all the time in the world (at least until I go back to work). I do have nice chunks of time to myself during the day, while he naps, and I’m just starting to figure out how to put them to my advantage. Depending on the previous night, there are naps to take myself, there are chores to be done, meals to be eaten, and projects to undertake.

So many projects!

Run errands while he won’t cause a fuss.

Take a walk if the weather’s nice.

Write a letter. A few friends and I, mourning the coming loss of Saturday mail service, decided to write 30 letters in 30 days – any type of mail counts, from postcards to packages – and I’m loving it, even when I’m a few letters behind. Right now I have three letters to reply to, which makes the whole project feel real.

Bake – I have a pile of newish cookbooks out of the library and I want to try at least one recipe from each before I have to return them. Right now I have The Sprouted Kitchen, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, and The Science of Good Cooking. Meals are always iffy around here – the baby seems to sense that I’m hungry and work up an appetite himself – but I’ve managed some baking during his afternoon nap, and I might as well try some new things.

Read all those books that I kept thinking would be perfect for maternity leave. At the moment, I’m rereading the Elizabeth Peters books that I happen to own. Leila at Bookshelves of Doom is doing an Elizabeth Peters week, which I think is ending today, but it inspired me to pull out a tattered copy of Naked Once More and now Crocodile on the Sandbank – I haven’t read any of the Amelia Peabody books in years (I went on a reread through the Vicky Bliss books a few years ago) and I’m remembering why I loved them so much (even though they do get a bit repetitive as the series goes on…and on). I’m discovering that mass market paperbacks, which I usually dislike because they don’t lay flat – an important quality if you read while eating – are perfect for reading one-handed while nursing.

More soon, I hope. The creature is stirring.

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I just wrote two letters.  Whee!  Mainly so I can’t complain about never getting any interesting mail.  If I reply to some letters, I can go back to complaining.  Productive, that’s me.  Productive while I try not to panic over the fact that my car broke down yesterday and would need $900 in repairs, except that’s a waste of money because it’s 17 years old.  My car is old enough to drive and donate blood.  Almost old enough to die for its country.  Instead of $900, we’re going for the $80 fix which involves the heater/AC not working and me turning around and selling it for however much I can convince someone to pay me.  In the meantime, how convenient that my mom just got herself a shiny new car and I can drive her ancient Toyota in the meantime.  While I pretend to be able to scrape together enough moolah to get a new car.

In other news, the fridge just started making a noise like a tiny rock band is locked in the freezer.  Wait, it just stopped.  At least I’m not responsible for the fridge.  Best thing about renting.  That and not mowing the lawn.

In other other news,  little brother and I are going to the movies tonight, after we both get off work in “downtown” hometown.  I wonder not having read Harry Potter in a few years will allow me to not obsess over the adaptation?  Probably not.  Especially since Joe is pretty much the only person who vaguely puts up with me tearing apart movie versions of books, being perhaps equally obsessed with the details.  I don’t even have to care about the book, I still enjoying ripping into it.

I started The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay last night.  I’m hooked.

Also, Shug is a great little read if you’re sitting in a parking lot waiting for your car to be towed.  Delightfully distracting.

Is it wrong that all I want to do is make and eat pastry?  And feed it to people? My dad and I had an extensive discussion about pie crusts and pastry methods last night.  My dad is all “Martha this” and “Martha that” and we discuss chilling all your ingredients (apparently Martha says everything chilled, but don’t bother with the salt) and America’s Test Kitchen says a 3:2 butter:shortening ratio for optimal flakiness and flavor.  You need a large food processor, and make sure you can still see chunks of butter, and here’s why you need to pierce the dough with a fork.  My sister ignored us and watched Angel.  According to Martha, try rolling your dough out on a surface sprinkled with brown sugar and spices, and they’ll be embedded in the underside of your crust.  I like that idea.

Part I

Now that it’s April, I can tell my March Modern Letter Project story.

When I got the email with the name & address, I was already halfway through a letter to that person.  But since I’d started it in February, it felt like cheating to count it as the March Letter.  So I sent that one off in a hurry, and waited for a response.

See, the name I got was none other than that of my number one faithful correspondent. Our letter-writing history now spans two decades.  I present to you the photo evidence:

Unfortunately undated, this birthday card dates back to a time before she knew how to spell my name, but after she had begun to learn her cursive letters.  IE, the St. Michael’s period.  (Fortunately, she can now write better poetry than that duck.)

What do you put in a letter to one of your oldest friends?  I thought I ought to come up with something unusual and spectacular, but it turns out that you just do your normal thing.

You take a break from all the other clutter, make a cup of coffee, and put pen to paper.  You send cross-country, and wait for a reply.

A letter, a sheaf of childhood poems, and a calling card.

This story would be much more thrilling if we’d lost touch and the MLP brought us back together, but I’m happy to report that such is not the case.  Letter-writing is alive and well, or so the thunk of letters into my mailbox tells me.

Now, I just need to reply to my March letter, and to the other dear friends who’ve helped balance out the junk mail.

Part II

Did you know that I’ve been blogging for over two years?  Neither did I, until I got a comment on a post from April 2005.  February 19, 2005, to be exact, was my starting date.   Rereading the old post, I felt like I could’ve written it yesterday.  Precisely yesterday, because it’s all about bridal chambers and they’re conflicting depictions in Orthodox hymns.  Perhaps not precisely pious and enlightening, but as I said earlier today, I tend to go more for “weird, but entertaining.”

But to venture ever so lightly into the pious arena…The very fact that I feel like I could’ve written that yesterday only makes me more aware of how each Lent, each feast, each service seems to overlap into one, well, timeless event.  As it ought.  See also, this time last year.  And last year’s annual comment on the time overlap.

I can’t quite believe it’s Holy Week, but somehow it is.  And for some reason I signed up for the midnight-1 am vigil slot.  Probably because I love being in the church at night, and because I’m often awake at that hour anyway.

This left in the mail today.  In return, we received only junk mail.

“I asked for bread and butter, and you have given me CAKE.

Except not really at all.  I just had a little Importance of Being Earnest moment there.   It was either that or compose a mail-related troparion.  “We received only junk mail in the sixth tone…”  Very appropriate, really.  Hearken unto me!  Except I can’t really complain, since I received my own March letter on Friday.  It helped lighten up that old Roman feeling.  That and a new set of tires (set?  gaggle? herd? murder? flock?) I just want the letter to arrive already (well, you should’ve written it sooner…) so I can share the whole story behind it.

Even with one letter written today, that still leaves me three more to reply to.  My letter-receiving up runneth over.

I’m drinking Earl Grey and eating chocolate chips (shutup) while I wait for a batch of banana oatmeal muffins to reach optimal brownness on their darling little tops.

Reading: Inkheart, The Case of the Missing Books.

Listening to: Whale Talk, I Am the Messenger

Whale Talk hereby joins Dairy Queen in the “YA books about sports, but I love the book anyway” category.  It’s a small one, but it’s growing.

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.

Perfect.

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.

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).

Today is classic November.  Wet, but not so much that you can’t walk to the post office to mail a couple gag gifts.  “Do you want insurance or delivery confirmation?”  “Hell no.  It cost me fifty cents.”  Except I don’t swear at the postman.  (Unless they continue to deliver mail for someone who does not live here.  How many times must I write “not at this address” and stick it back out?  This time I wrote “nope, still not at this address” in the vain hope that it will get the message across.)

In non weather/postal service news, I watched 21 Up last night.  Apparently a new one just came out, 49 I think, but I started watching this series before there were dozens of holds at the library, thank you very much.  While I’m not watching them, the series seems slightly dull, but as soon as I slip in a disc…I’m mesmerized.  I cannot stop thinking about it.  About the children around me, and how they will change in seven years.  And how that 7 year old self is still encapsulated in the 14 year old, the 21 year old, etc.  Nestled like stacking dolls and my God, you can see it all there, waiting to unravel.  But on the other hand, you could never really predict it.  You only see it 7 or 14 or 21 years later and recognize that it was always there, really.

I also love knowing that tonight, 7 years will have passed in only 24 hours and I can watch 28 Up.

Dear Mr. M.T. Anderson,

I have to confess that I dogeared your book. Octavian. You know the one. I was reading along and thinking about smallpox and vaccines (a subject on which all my knowledge derives from fiction) and whether or not they really ate Brie at the time of the American Revolution (“‘I could eat Brie until I looked like soap'”) when you’ve just got to pull me out of the story with something like this:

“‘When I peer into the reaches of the most distant futurity, I fear that even in some unseen epoch when there are colonies even upon the moon itself, there shall still be gatherings like this, where the young, blinded by privilege, shall dance and giggle and compare their poxy lesions…We are a young country, a country of the young,’ he said bitterly. ‘The young must have their little entertainments.'” (page 203)

A trip to the moon, anyone?

We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

You just had to be clever. Can you help it? Probably not.

And may I point out that the blotted out bits were eerily chilling? I may? Oh, thanks.

And a request for Volume 2, if I may? Could you talk your publisher into making a book with uncut pages, so that we your humble readers can sit with a letter opener and have the heretofore unknown pleasure of slitting the pages apart ourselves? Because the faux-cut pages look is so trendy. Everyone’s doing it. And I’m sure you don’t have much control over these things, so I’ll understand if it can’t happen. But could you at least put in a word with Candlewick? They seem like reasonable people.

Guilelessly,

Library Girl

I’m not an author either, but like Babelbabe I like the idea of picking five books off my shelf. At first I thought “how will I pick randomly?” and then I realized “because I had a glass of wine more than four hours after my last meal, silly.” Ahem. Because that’s true. It was a very mediocre white (not even a hint of barnyard!) that, if I recall correctly, Kate and I opened over a week ago. I wasn’t feeling picky. Also, I’m alone in the apartment for over a week. This is why I don’t live alone. I’d be uncovered after a period of several months, rolling in a heap of books and muttering something about raw milk.

I digress.

I picked five books, by closing my eyes and picking one off each shelf of fiction.

1. The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, Richard Brautigan. Purchased at Powells after Bronwen emailed me many of the poems in college, for $3.50. “I think I’ll get up/ and dance around the room./ Here I go!”

2. The Voyage Out, Virginia Woolf. Purchased on Charing Cross Road for 2.50 (that’s pounds). With, I might add, Bronwen. I think I saved it to read in Italy, at a time when books in English were a precious commodity.

3. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen. Received from a Stonecutter. Haven’t read yet. Even Kate has read it. Shame.

4. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan. I think I bought it at Goodwill. I was going to say I read it for sophomore English, but that was The Kitchen God’s Wife, which I actually prefer, especially when I need a good tearjerker. The movie of JLC? Bores me to tears.

5. Stuart Little, EB White. Bought it at Powells, I think. “He somehow felt he was headed in the right direction.”

Good variety, yes?

In, um, other news – you know how I LOVE the mail? Well, tonight I had an odd feeling as I approached my mailbox. I pulled it all out, fumbled with the key, turned on a light, sorted Kate’s stuff into a stack, and there it was. The return address I’ve been waiting for. But – a moment of panic. The envelope was thin. Thin means rejection, yes? Fat means “we love you! Come to our university and fulfill your destiny! Here are several brochures!” I practically rip open the envelope.

You know when you’re reading something that you know is important? And you try to read as quickly as possible because oh my God the suspense? But you don’t want to miss important details? Mistake “accepted” for “rejected” or some such. Yeah, that’s how I felt.

In the words of Kate’s wedding invite reply card (although not the actual wording of the letter), I was “delightfully accepted” into the library science program at the university of my choice. (IE, the only university I applied to, albeit twice.) Hence the wine on a relatively empty stomach. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?

Sorry, this is getting excessive. I need to find more to say before I sit down and avoid these puny posts.

But I have to say, there was no mail. Which is possibly sadder than an official no mail day. Because on the no mail day, you can’t get your hopes up. But today, I did. And I was let down. Possibly I should reply to the letters sitting on my desk.

Which brings up another point: guilt. The guilt I feel over telling people I have a blog but not responding to their emails. Do you feel unloved? Berate me. Do.

Tonight’s was a multi-course dinner. First there was some sliced mozzerella and tomatoes. Then some chicken was introduced, along with bread from Grand Central. Currently some pototaes are being mashed. I might also have a little salad. Wanna come over? You might make it in time for dessert. Or tea – we’ll always have tea, day or night.

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