Books read in May 2016

Holy cats, Batman, I read two adult fiction books, plus a nonfiction.  What is going on?

recommendedYoung Adult:  The Smell of Other People’s Houses
Grownup Nonfiction:  Spark Joy
Adult Fiction:  Eligible.  I can also recommend Eligible.

picture books
The White Cat and the Monk
Read for librarian book group
There is apparently a poem a monk wrote about the white cat who came into his cell and their mutual search for things?  I’d never heard of this poem and wouldn’t have minded some form of it being reprinted in full at the end of the book.  The illustrations were too simple for the majority of the book–the rendering of the cat I found particularly unfortunate–though they shined on the illuminated manuscript pages.
middle grade

Kwame Alexander
Read for librarian book group
Mr. Alexander brings us another book about a boy interested in sports (this time soccer) told in poetry form.  I love that about Kwame Alexander.  The book contains a solid middle-grade story with age-appropriate challenges (family, school, soccer, love). I enjoyed reading it, but found that two weeks later I couldn’t remember the plot.

Raymie Nightingale
Kate DiCamillo
Read for librarian book group
There was a lot of gushing love for this story by the librarians.  I did not feel the same.  The setting seemed to be a small town, yet Raymie Nightingale was unaware of many elements in her small town.  Nearly all of the characters were turned just the slightest bit too high on the quirky/unique scale and the narrative didn’t grab me and pull me in.  I felt fairly disconnected from the entire story.  I appreciated the illustration of magical thinking (I can fix a problem by doing something unrelated) that was so prevalent during my own childhood.

young adult

The Smell of Other People’s Houses
Bonnie Sue Hitchock
Read for librarian book group
This is in the running for Book with the Best Title, and the book itself was quite strong.  The narrative included multiple perspectives from several Alaskan teenagers in the 1960s and 1970s.  For such a slim book, it packed a lot of story.

Wink, Poppy, Midnight
April Genevieve Tucholke
Read for librarian book group
I liked the title and yet it gave me no clues what to expect.  It turns out that those words in the title are names of the three characters, who all take turns narrating.  This was an intriguing and enjoyable story that kept me guessing, and while it was tense in moments, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “psychological thriller,” as someone does on the book jacket.

Grownup Nonfiction

Spark Joy
Marie Kondo
About this time last year I “tidied” following the KonMarie Method as outlined in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  And it has been very much a life-changing year.  This book is positioned as a “master class” in tidying and it gave me another shot of success, mostly in the clothes folding arena, which I thought I understood from the first book.  However, the illustrations illuminated just how much more tidier my clothes could be. And now they are.

p.s. The historian in me still needs to go on record as to the importance of saving letters you receive.  I do not agree with Marie Kondo at all.

Adult fiction

Curtis Sittenfeld
I’m a casual admirer of Pride & Prejudice, and a rabid fan of Curtis Sittenfeld.  That mean I was eager to read her adaptation of the classic Jane Austin novel. And what fun it  was!  All of the characters you love (or love to hate) find their contemporary doppelgängers in an adaptation that is as witty, frustrating and romantic as the original. (Yet so much easier to read.)  As usual, Sittenfeld has a wonderful way of writing, so no fewer than four quotes from the book made their way to my Goodreads Quotes page.  This was also quite discussable.

Curtis Sittenfeld
(And then I read it all over again five days later)

The Love Song of Jonny Valentine
Teddy Wayne
Have you ever had a conversation with an 11-year-old boy who is really, really into something?  Maybe that something is something you don’t know anything about, so at first what he’s telling you is interesting. So it’s fun at first.  But then he just keeps going, because he’s super into his thing and maybe hasn’t matured enough to pick up on the social cues of when it’s time to wrap it up. And suddenly you’re feeling trapped and slightly panicked because, when exactly, will he stop talking?

That was this book.  If you want to be inside the head of an 11-year-old boy who has been groomed for pop stardom since he became a 9-year-old YouTube sensation, this is your book.  It’s full of details like his obsession with “chub” (his own and everyone else’s) his thoughts about what it takes to be a true star, his obsession with when exactly he will hit puberty, and what kind of clothing everyone is wearing.

The author’s point comes through clearly.  I walked away from this book frustrated with the way Jonny Valentine was being used to further various adult goals, and I felt sad that he will never have any normal interactions with children his own age.  But I also walked away frustrated because I couldn’t wait to be done with the book because his narration was relentless and unchanging and left me trapped and panicked.  I’ve spent the time sense wondering if it would have been a more successful book had it been written from multiple perspectives rather than Jonny’s singular, unrelenting one.

Sure does look like a bunch of unfinished projects…


I got a lot done this weekend–nearly finished all my to-do list–and still I see a lot of projects. The netting needs to be put up for the bush beans.  The jars need to be transferred to Leo’s garden.  The bag of dryer lint needs to be transferred to the yard debris bin.  The cardboard needs to be stripped of its tape and spread around the yard(s).  The straw needs to be spread over the cardboard. The two pots of zucchini need to be planted.  The raspberries need to be picked.  The apple tree bed needs to be turned over.  Those boards need to go elsewhere. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to sweep the porch.

Requiem: Purple Bowl

Oh purple bowl!  You came to me in an Easter care package my mother mailed me when I was living in Somerville, Massachusetts.  I don’t recall the other things in that package, but I took to you immediately. You were a big bowl, but not very heavy and you got a lot of use.  I planned to keep you with me for many more years.   But no.  You were in the oven, doing your job of proofing bread, and I forgot about you and preheated the oven to 400 degrees.  IMG_5451

No bread for me.  And worse, no more purple bowl.  I’m sorry you didn’t get a longer life.  And I’m also sorry I didn’t get to complete the last thing on my to-do list this weekend. IMG_5452

Song of the month May 2016

“Let me Roll It”
Paul McCartney
When Sir Paul visited in April, David Greenwald put together a list of 15 of McCartney’s best songs since the Beatles.  I’d always thought of myself as a “Paul”, but as I listened my way through the list it became apparent that I’m actually a “John”.  His counter-culture weirdness has always bugged me, but I think I like his music better.

The one Paul song on the list I felt compelled to buy, was described by Mr. Greenwald as “a very John Lennon song.”  Huh.

Vampire Weekend
I was thinking I didn’t have any songs for this month, and decided to go back to the unbought archive and add this one.  Then I noticed I had already picked out the above song, but decided to buy this one anyway.

I love how this song came together.  The hammond-style organ sound with the tom drum plus the lyrics are a winner.  Also, I can play it on the piano!

Rolling around my head this month:
“Jamie All Over”
Mayday Parade
Years ago, someone who was briefly my friend on Facebook put up a post in June with a picture of evening sky and text that said, “Let’s put a 10 on the high card, and spend the summer on the West Coast.”  Intrigued by the sentiment, I googled it to see just what it was.  It turned out to be a line from this song.  My wonderful library soon provided me with the album.  It’s a great album, and the band has a habit of naming their songs not-obvious things.  Sometimes they are funny, such as “I’d Hate to be You When People Find Out What This Song is About.”

But this song is my favorite on the album.  I love that it’s a duet–which is rare in this genre–and that the band sounds like they are having an incredible time when they recorded it.  I love that they lyrics aren’t entirely clear on first (or second, or even third) listen.  I love that it captures that freedom of early adulthood and saves it for me, who has long left that stage behind me. It’s good I like it so much, because it’s terribly catchy and gets stuck in my head for days.


Dead Relatives Tour 2016

For some reason it’s taken me a long time to notice this carved piece of art. It’s kind of 60’s cool, in keeping with the decor.  That’s a far-out Jesus.IMG_5445

Uncle Tom is still resting in peace.  I missed taking a picture of the Great-great grandparents grave.IMG_5446

At the next cemetery, I apparently had my camera set to “poster” again.  This is Aunt Pat getting started.IMG_5448

And the finished product.IMG_5449

Then we ate Chinese food.

Requiem: Yellow Job Notebook

Once upon a time, a teacher told me to keep a notebook with all the information I would need to apply for a job.  I believe this was my ninth grade reading teacher, and her name has fallen out of my memory, though I can picture her classroom, where it was located (in a school that has now been torn down) and the fact that Ryan Fitzgerald was in that class with me.

I thought this was good advice and I wanted a job, so I found a notebook and started my list.  [And now I see that it can’t be my ninth grade reading teacher who told me, because the first entries were all put at the same time and I didn’t start working until tenth grade. So I’m not sure what happened there.  Maybe I had a different notebook as a starter notebook?]

At any rate, I’ve kept it all these years, adding to it every time I started a job search again. In tidying last year, I set it in my inbox to transition to a Word document, because job hunting has changed and no longer do I need to fill out paper applications (thank god).  I’ve finally made a word document called “Yellow Job Notebook”, but thought I would capture it one last time before I sent it on its way.  Notice the addition of my typing speed and the type of printer I once owned.IMG_5443

Here’s the first page.  Ah memories.  Wild Waters doesn’t even exist anymore.  Though someone has made a helpful Facebook page of Where Wild Waters Used to Be  and some photos.  And look at my rates of pay!IMG_5444

Earliest reserve times for Oregon State Parks

Back when I had the boring job (thankfully many, many years ago) I put together a table of when to reserve campsites (cabins/yurts/teepees/etc.) through the Oregon State Parks.  The rules in Oregon are that you can reserve nine months and two weeks before your visit.

This table of dates has been posted on a bulliten board that was tidied away and then the table moved to the inbox, where I was going to make a blog post.  And then another year passed.   But here it is!

There seem to be no tables in WordPress, and I’m too lazy to make an illustration so here’s the stripped down format:

Holiday or “Holiday” (approximate date of holiday) when to reserve

New Years (1st week in January) reserve by April 1
MLK (3rd week in January) reserve by Mid-April
President’s Day (3rd week in February) reserve by Mid-May
Halfway between MLK & Memorial Day (Mid-march to end of March) June 15-30
Memorial Day (last weekend in May) August 30
Mid-July (Mid-July) October 15
First of August (First of August) November 1
Labor Day (First Monday in September) December 1
Veterans Day (11th of November) February 11
Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November) End of February
Christmas (25th of December) March 25

Due to calendar variations, you may have to adjust the reserve dates slightly.  But you get the picture.

Dance recital 2016

This year we performed a fetching number to “Steam Heat” from the 2006 revival of the Pajama Game.  There were hats.  We tossed them up and caught them.  It was incredibly fun.  IMG_5442

We were tasked with all wearing vests, but the closest I could find at my local Goodwill was a sweater vest.  Which I washed to get rid of the Goodwill smell and it shrunk.  Oh well!  I still wore it.

Afterward, Matt presented me with flowers. They were beautiful and I loved that the florist wrapped them in pattern paper.