Thursday, May 26, 2016

Common Household Book Preferences: Parent Version

A few weeks ago, I urgently felt the need for a light, enjoyable, modern book to read in the midst of all the mess.  

I asked around for some fun books to read, and was amply rewarded with many suggestions. Off to the library!  As much as I like certain aspects of reading on my kindle, I wanted actual books to hold in my actual hands.

I was very sad that the children’s books suggested by my dear friend College English Major were not on the shelf.  I could not get a copy of Dick and Jane and Vampires, by Laura Marchesani, or Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile, by Tomie de Paola.  All was not lost;  just reading the brief descriptions of these books on Amazon lifted my spirits:

When innocent Dick and Jane meet a creepy, cape-wearing vampire, the unexpected happens: he becomes their friend!


It's a new school year, as William Everett Crocodile and his trusty friend and toothbrush, Pete, prepare for a class trip down the Nile.

Of the books everyone recommended, only a few were on the shelf in our library. I pulled a few others off the shelf that looked interesting.

The library's terminology for actual books is Physical Checked Out Items.  Here's what I got:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Recommended by friends
by Shaffer, Mary Ann.

The Old Curiosity Shop
by Dickens, Charles.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon Recommended by friends
by Allen, Sarah Addison.

The Little Book
by Edwards, Selden.

Practical Magic Recommended by friends
by Hoffman, Alice.

Between You & Me : Confessions of a Comma Queen
by Norris, Mary (Editor).

Younger Daughter has absconded with Practical Magic.  I have already finished Guernsey Literary, which I enjoyed.  I think I'll go for The Girl Who Chased the Moon next.  

On my kindle, I am a third of the way through Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, which is for next month’s book club discussion.  On the kindle I’ve also got Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell.  She seems to specialize in delightfully snarky historical narrative.  

I have the prospect of being able to read this soon!  Across the River, by Melissa Westemeier.  I just ordered it from the publisher.  The author blogs here.

And finally, I’ve been heavily reading Psalms for spiritual help.  Recommended by God

                        The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,
                                    and saves the crushed in spirit.
                                                   - Psalm 34:18

My husband was bereft of books to read, but he rejected my stack and went to get his own.

So what's in your reading stack right now? 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Common Household Book Preferences: Teen Version

I had this discussion with Younger Daughter today, on the way to the farmer’s market.

YD:  When I get home I’m going to get back to my Grisham book.

Me:  What?  You shouldn’t be reading John Grisham!

YD:  Why not?

Me (bemoaning the loss of innocence of my youngest child): My baby should not be reading about rogue lawyers and such.  She should be reading about lollipops and moonbeams.

YD:  Mom!  I am not a spring bonnet!

Me:  When I was sixteen, I was reading…. I can’t remember.  I guess I was reading Jane Eyre.  And poetry.  Stuff like that.  Jane Eyre doesn’t have gruesome things in it.  It has… well, it has governesses and proper things like that.

YD:   Mom, you do not know much about teenagers these days. I don’t want to read about governesses.

Me:  Well, I guess it did have a madwoman in the attic.  And potential bigamy.  But I didn’t realize that when I was sixteen.   By the way, did you start that book you borrowed from my library book pile?
(That would be Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman.) 

YD:  Yes.  It’s pretty good so far.

Me:  DON’T tell me anything!  I hate spoilers.  I can’t even read the book jacket of books any more.  They always tell some surprising thing that happens about a hundred pages in.  I want to discover it when the author reveals it, not from the book jacket.

YD:  Mom. A hundred pages is not that far into the book.  And besides, the stuff they reveal in the book jacket is always obvious to everybody.

Me:  Not to me!  When we had to read The Scarlet Letter in ninth grade, everybody in the class knew who the father was except for me.

YD:  Who was the father?

Me:  Didn’t you read it?

YD:  Yes, but I can’t remember. And I am not going to read it again just to find out who the father was.

Me:  Okay. No one should have to read The Scarlet Letter twice.

YD:  John Grisham writes page turners.

Me:  Yes, he does.  I think I read one John Grisham book. It was called The Runaway Jury.  It was good. It was a page turner, all right.  I think it had cigarettes in it.

YD:  John Grisham books tend to have racy things in them.

Me:  Cigarettes are not exactly racy.

YD: I mean things that sixteen year olds aren’t supposed to have experience with, like cigarettes.

Luckily for her, we arrived at the farmer’s market just then, so I couldn’t question her about racy things that she is not supposed to have experience with.  Nor could I admonish her that she needs to be studying for finals instead of reading John Grisham.  Instead, we argued about whether I was buying too many flowers to reasonably plant in the next few days.  Of course I bought too many flowers!

One whole flat of flowers.  What, am I crazy?

Dusty miller - a new plant for me.  I wonder how long it will
take for me to kill it.

 Dear readers, do you remember what sorts of books you liked to read when you were sixteen years old?

Friday, May 20, 2016


Five-gallon bucket with motivational message.
Last Saturday our house had an emergency colonoscopy.  Dr Roto-rooter determined that the house needs a full intestinal replacement.  Disembowelment.  Evisceration. 

Nasty house abdominal symptom, found
in our basement last Saturday. This is
Not Good.

During the past two weeks some things have happened that make me feel that I and my loved ones have been spiritually eviscerated.  Basically, it’s been a truly shitty two weeks.  I’m devastated, angry, perplexed, and appalled. But I am not going to say anything more about that, because:

"I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you!
And now... well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it!
After we handed over large suitcases full of money to the plumbers, the process of disemboweling our only abode began on Tuesday with the jack hammering of large portions of the garage floor.  It took the workers all day.  I discovered that jack hammering affects things in other rooms.

This is what I found in the basement, which
shares a wall with the jackhammered room.
This is where I store extra food, which just
 leapt off the shelves!  Fortunately nothing broke.
Our jack-hammered garage floor

I am really glad I didn't waste any time sweeping
 the garage floor this spring, because they just turned it into this.
The project has proceeded apace.  It seems if you pay people enough money, they will do the job quickly, using space-age techniques where possible.  It’s Friday morning, and we have all new sewer lines in the garage.  We did not find any interesting things, such as casks of Amontillado, beating hearts, or cats, under the floor of the garage.

New sewer line in this direction

And new sewer line in that direction

A photo showing how thick the garage floor is,
with (given the week I have had) what might become
 my new morning beverage, included for size comparison.

Also, there is a new sewer line running from the powder room to this main sewer line.  That job was done without digging, using a technique involving a cloth sleeve impregnated with alien sinews.  The sleeve is inserted in the existing pipe, inflated and then some alien juice is added at which point the alien sinews become as strong and as solid as iron or PVC pipe.  This new pipe can never be destroyed because it is from outer space.  Or maybe it lasts exactly five years, which is what the length of the warranty is.

Today, they are doing a similar alien material procedure on the sewer line leading from the house to the municipal sewer.  I will bet that in five years we will be looking for Sigourney Weaver to help us fight the aliens that will be born in this sewer line. 

I left the house this morning before the plumbers arrived, but came home while they were working on this.   The process apparently requires that the cloth pipe be ironed before being installed.  This is the first time in six years that an iron has been used on our property.  The length of cloth pipe they need ran the entire length of the driveway. 
The neighbors are all highly amused by all this
drama.  Just wait 'til it's their turn!

Dalek in our basement.
Run, before it exterminates you!

The procedure also required them to bring in this Dalek, which I found sitting in front of the clothes washer.  Since Dr. Who is unlikely to show up anytime soon to protect me, I am clearing out and taking myself to a place where I can finally get a cup of hot tea, a mark of civilization which, for me, requires the presence of another mark of civilization, that is, a working bathroom.

Dr Roto-rooter called the substance “resins”.  But I am pretty sure the material is alien.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Quotable Quotes for Morning Notes

A few days ago, one of my most loyal readers turned to me and said, “Mom, you haven’t posted anything on your blog lately.”

To which I replied something like, “Yep.  I’ve been busy.”

But inside I yelled, “THAT’S BECAUSE I’M IN THE SANDWICH!”   The sandwich generation, that is.  Doing my tasks as parent and as adult niece of elderly people and as regular citizen has lately been time-consuming.  More on that later, or perhaps not at all.

Nevertheless, I have faithfully been writing notes to my resident high school student for every school-day morning.  I usually write these on the back of scraps of paper discarded from other projects.  In addition to the “Monday Morning Quiz” format, I sometimes try to find interesting quotes. Wednesday night I was delighted to pull out a piece of scrap paper for my morning note and find a discarded powerpoint presentation, with quotes already on it from two different distinguished famous people!  This saved me the time it would take to look up and copy quotes.

I added my own personal touch and left the note at the table.

Pithy Quote Note

The quotes say “Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing you will be successful.”

And then I wrote:
Look!  It’s a pre-printed Morning Note!  With pithy quotes from famous people! 
I hope you have a pithy day. 
Today is Uncle’s birthday.
                      Pithy Mom

My husband saw the note the next morning.  He said, “What is on this Morning Note?”  I said, “Isn’t this great?!  It’s some quotes by famous people. Usually quotes are said by either Albert Einstein or Abraham Lincoln, but these are said by Albert Schweitzer and Buddha.”

 Husband said, “Here’s a quote: ‘Always check your zipper.’ Lincoln said that. It’s good advice.”

It wasn’t until much later that I saw that in the above note, both Albert Schweitzer and Buddha said exactly the same thing, and in English, even though neither of them was British or American.

Here are some other pithy quote Morning Notes:

John James Audubon
A Quote for today
“I would strongly advise you to make up your mind, shoulder your gun, muster all your spirits, and start in search of the interesting unknown.”
                                                - John James Audubon
(Either that, or just get to the bus stop on time.  I do not recommend taking a gun.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Lao Tzu
 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
                                                            - Lao Tzu

“I hope you make it to the bus stop this morning.”
                                                            - Mom

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Dr Seuss

A quote for today:
            “Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”                        
                                                            - Dr. Seuss
Have fun thinking thinks today!
* * * * * * * * * * * * 

Spike Milligan and April Winchell

Quotes for Thursday

And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.
                                                            - Spike Milligan

I wish you a tolerable Thursday.  That’s all any of us can hope for.
                                                            - April Winchell

I wish you a tolerable weekend.