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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…

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.

(April Modern Letter, sent off at the last moment on the 30th)

Odd how you can go along not really thinking about things, and then someone asks “how have you been?” and all of a sudden you have to stop and consider, how have I been?  The answer isn’t immediately there, ready to be presented.  You’ve just been going along, good and bad.

Which reminds me of my near-constant efforts to work on being a friendlier person.  As in, not the one that scowls at you.  Not outgoing, mind you, that would be heresy to an introvert.  Not necessarily Friendly.  But…friendlier.   It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

I’m currently listening to two very different and absorbing audiobooks.  Plus reading an absorbing book.  It wreaks havoc on my brain sometimes, the transition.  I might be at home reading The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf and considering the modest lowering of the gaze as a form of flirting amongst Hoosier Muslims (and how well I would fit into that – I can lower my gaze expertly!) and then I’ll drive to work listening to Fortress of Solitude which washes over me in waves of delicious phrases like “Isabel was a knuckle” (can’t you just picture her?) and finally I’ll be at work with the ipod and listening to the high school-vampireness of Twilight (what’s with vampires these days?  I am so beyond not getting it as a genre, but I enjoy specific titles, like this or The Historian).  It hurts, I tell you.  And now will I crawl into bed and read for a bit or listen for a bit?

May Day…I ought to scan pictures of the old gang with our flower and leaf wreaths on our heads.  Those were the days, the May Pole and the flowers.  I would gladly go back to grade school for a few days, especially if it consisted mainly, as it does in my memory, watercolors, knitting, freeze tag, French and German lessons, beeswax sculpture, and singing.  Oh, and stories to explain things like division.

Bright…Wednesday?  I sure hope it’s Wednesday, because if it’s any other day of the week, I’m late for work.  Still rainy and overcast.

Eating warm chocolate cake with a scoop of coffee ice cream.  Reading The Way of the Storyteller and alternately feeling enthusiastic (nothing is lost!) and rejected (she can be a trifle elitist, she can).  But mostly inspiring.  Makes me want to rush out and listen to as many storytellers as possible.  And find the stories I want to tell.  I’ve never really done it, real storytelling, not out loud.  But I’m in love with the idea of taking on a story to such a degree that you can tell it from memory – not word for word, but as something alive and dynamic each time you tell it.  And that one’s experiences and life go into stories as into a compost heap, that life feeds on stories and vice versa.

In other news, March book tallies are in.  My grand total was 17, with a good balance between juv and adult – 10 to 7.  I also got caught up on this year’s Newbery Honor titles, which I both enjoyed, especially Hattie Big Sky (I read Rules last year).  Only eight of my seventeen counted (by my loose standards) as historical fiction, so almost half.  So far this month it’s been ALL historical fiction, but I’m already falling behind since I’ve only read 3 in 10 days.  Horrors!

Time to skedaddle off to the library – where, I realized, I never browse.  I only put stuff on hold.  I kind of miss browsing, but my list is so long, I’ll never run out of something to read.  Not to mention the books I own that remain unread…

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.

6:30 pm: leave for church

7:00-9:30 pm: crack up inappropriately over everything from “the low estate of his handmaiden” to “alien darkness.”

9:50 pm: depart church

10:00-10:15 pm: frost cupcakes, vegan style

10:20 pm: make pancakes

10:25 pm: slight chance that I applied leftover frosting to pancake.  Possibly more than one.

10:35 pm: simultaneously turn on 24, burn pancake, and blog

10:40 pm: hands still smell like garlic from salmon prep

I just got off the phone with my mom, who had left me a message asking if I wanted to have lunch and then ditched me.  Whatever.  Apparently, my Mormon great-aunt (doesn’t everyone have a Mormon great-aunt?  It seems like such an archetypal character) has put together a little book of family genealogy/history/photos, and sent my family a copy.  No surprise there, this is what Mormon great-aunts LIVE for.  That and raising several dozen children, so as to create ever more elaborate genealogies in the future.

My mom was flipping through it (it’s my dad’s side of the family) and said she  just wanted a nice family tree so she could keep track of everyone.  “All those Swedes, for God’s sake!” she said.  “And the Duckworths, and the Tildens…!”  I admit, the Swedes ARE overwhelming.  It’s the names, I think, hard to keep them all straight.

In keeping with this genealogy fest, I’m continuing my March is Historical Fiction campaign of ’07.  I finished up Accidents of Nature (and concluded that it is, indeed, historical fiction) and am moving right along to Our Only May Amelia.  Which, sadly, has the most craptastic cover ever.  So craptastic, in fact, that no one wants to put it online anymore.  I had to go to Amazon UK to find a picture.

The paperback version is such a vast improvement that I weep with relief.

When will they have mercy on poor Jennifer Holm?  Why must she be subjected to these book covers?  She won a Newbery Honor, for crying out loud, so you’d think they’d have given her something better for Penny From Heaven.  Of course not.

Although I suppose it’s an improvement over the original cover for May Amelia, so perhaps the paperback will actually be exciting?  She’s got nowhere to go but up, right?

Speaking of up, look at the weather, will you!  It’s…well, I resort to the words of Brideshead Revisited:

“Like a leprechaun.”

 ”Dappled, in a tapestry meadow.”

“Like a flute by still water.”

“A prophet in a cave.”

“…And this is a necklace of pearls on white neck.”

“Like a swan.”

“Like the last unicorn.”

I went for another walk yesterday with K & co., and this time we were greeted by blue skies and balmy breezes and birdsong instead of hail.  We pulled off our layers and rolled up our sleeves, we frolicked, we admired mushrooms, we ran uphill.

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.

If you’re not already watching Brotherhood 2.0, why NOT?  It’s my new favorite form of serialized entertainment.  (Okay, admittedly there aren’t really any contenders).  But it’s gold.

I have things to say about The View From Saturday.  But not quite yet.

So far, in my life, 2007 has been primarily comprised of 1) waffles and 2) gin rummy.  I’ve also managed to knock out ten books, which equals .5 books every day.  At this rate (which I will not keep up) I will read 182.5 books in 2007 (and I didn’t even need to call a mathematician to figure that out, so there).   So that’s it, right there, my top 3 activities.  I actually lost track of how many waffles I ate today (now there would be an annual total worth tracking!) because I started off with a fairly standard 2 for breakfast (they’re banana waffles, by the way) and somewhere around lunchtime and my third cup of tea, I got the leftover batter out and snacked on them until the batter was gone.  Is that not the most fascinating thing you’ve read so far this year?

When I was a kid, I would meticulously document all my Christmas presents in my diary.  I liked to leave things out under the tree to be admired at leisure.  Now, I like the things that get put to use immediately.  Like this year’s #1 gift, the hot water bottle (my old one, a purple fish, started to leak).  I crawled into bed last night with tea, Emily of New Moon, the hot water bottle, a cough, the chills, and my brand-spanking new ipod.  (It’s already been dropped in a cup of coffee, so we’re well aquainted.  Now I just need to get some books on there, because how much do I love the idea of going for a walk and listening to a book?  So much.)

Eh.  I don’t remember what else I was going to say.  I want a vacation.  I’ve stolen an exra day off work with being sick, even though it means I no longer get holiday pay for yesterday (no calling in sick the day before or day after a holiday at corporate job).  Which, I understand why they do that, but I AM sick.  I’m not about to go to work and stand out in a freezing cold warehouse while I try not to hack up a lung.  It’s not my fault that I succumbed to this cold as soon as I had a day off.

At least I’ve got my hot water bottle.

July 2020

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