Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Shout out to Mom for listening to public radio this afternoon and catching our old buddy John on Fresh Air (about 19 minutes). Terry Gross sounds very perfunctory, very suspicious. Shame on her.
Bestseller Lists , compiled from Publisher's Weekly lists. Valley of the Dolls topped the list the year I was born.

We had quite a good thunderstorm this morning around 4. I reset the bedside clock immediately. I forgot that a flicker to the power shuts down the window a/c unit entirely. I sat here in humid stillness thinking, That thing will click on any second, now. Be patient. Don't mess with it. (What's the emoticon for rolling eyes at one self?)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Last Time

This morning I went to the house I grew up in for the last time. Mom and Dad and I jammed the dining room rug into the Explorer to take to Mercer, for cleaning. Movers picked up the furniture a week ago. The rooms look huge, having been emptied of 30-years' accumulation of stuff. The windows are so tiny, though, compared to mine. Silly colonial revival!

I didn't really tour the house, just wandered through until I found Mom gathering a few stray things in the bathroom. The bathroom -- the other one, the sib's and mine -- is one of the first things I remember from touring the new, empty house. Being 5 or so, of course I had to use it. There were no curtains, and the trees were skinny so I could see Robious Road easily -- I felt way too exposed. Of course, it was still a lonely, windy road in the early 70s. No one was looking.
Back downstairs to putz around with the rug. It kinda go stuck in the back door, so I dashed out the front door to come around and pull: a last dash through the sprinkler. While the folks debated finer points of stuffing the rug in the car, I idly pulled my last few weeds from that garden. NOT from the freakin driveway, though.

I made my last left turn out of the driveway a couple of years ago, before they widened Robious to four lanes, divided. Today I took a right and then a U-turn, without looking back.

I made my last phone call to that number about 25 minutes later, just as Dad did find Mercer, making Mom's advice unnecessary. (She seemed to have gone on to Bon Air Library, anyway.)
What did I read at breakfast time while Dan was between computers? At the Marble Bar today, back alley wanderings.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Slate article, here, in which author whines about YA "problem novels" assigned over, say, Moby-Dick. It's a classic struggle between Literature and What (Young) People Will Read.

In ligther news, according to the ABC permit applied-for sign on the window, it looks like Mom's Siam is moving to Cary and Colonial -- where Christopher's / Lucy's was.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Random Fan Thoughts

Why aren't Richmonders good gardeners? On a walk from here to the Video Fan on Sunday (35 min. round trip, at a stroll) I saw perhaps 2 really nice front gardens -- everything else looks unbalanced, plopped in for the season, neglected, or overgrown.

Estate sale today: damn. It was of those great city houses I forget still exist since so many I enter are newly over-decorated house-tour gems, or the houses of friends-of-friends who have something akin to the same quirky tastes as me. Empire and Victorian furniture, oil paintings, Maxfield Parrish prints, Cape Cod glass, oriental rugs, wallpaper spanning 60s-80s, cheap faux wood paneling in a bedroom, Barbie & Ken of my era, also a "Timey Tell" for $25 (! I don't think mine was in such good condition). I bought an aqua hand mixer. The back garden seemed narrower than mine, stuffed with azalea and boxwood. From the alley, it's clear than many of those expensive houses (was I on Stuart or Hanover?) have crappy back yards. I wondered if one house was abandoned or a rental, the yard was so overgrown. Many serve as parking spots instead of gardens.

Capital City weather: goregous blue sky, 80ish

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I wish I had thought to call my blog the Carpetbagger Report! Nah, this person write about politics, which is all the better. See The Carpetbagger Report > Print > Good news, bad news on the lynching apology, for instance. Probably it's a rhetorical question, but the answer to the query in the last paragraph is "expediency."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Another thing I do at work is collect boxes. As leasebook manager, I help the boss select best sellers to lease, I stow the boxes in which Baker & Taylor sends the books to us, and when interest in older titles has waned, I pack them up in those boxes for return shipping. When I arrived, the waiting boxes had been flung against the wall behind my cublicle. As a neat freak, I started folding the flaps, putting small boxes in larger ones, and stacking them neatly in the nook between a place where the outside wall bumps out and a bookshelf. Ideally, they don't encroach on the tall, skinny window that's 24-30" from the floor-- I keep the stack low. Yup, I play Tetris with the boxes, lacking the zig-zag and the "L." Speaking of the "L," this is cool: Boing Boing: Real-life Tetris video.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

What I Do for a Living

(1) I read many, many book reviews and blurbs. The company from which we lease best sellers sends a 4 - 6 page booklet of blurbs to help use choose. I try to be very open minded; I know that people like to read the darndest things. But this blurb just took the cake.

First of all, the author goes by the name Candace Camp.
Second of all, the title: An Unexpected Pleasure
Finally, the blurb"Irish-American journalist Megan Mulcaheny goes undercover as a governess . . . to discover if Theo Moreland, the Marquiss of Raine, murdered her brother, but her plan backfires when love blossoms between them, forcing her to choose between her past and her future with Theo."

I mean, come on. What else could she go under cover as but a governess? Take it as given. Of course a marquiss (dictionary.com reports the second "s" is a valid alternate spelling). Of course a the governess falls for the supposed bad guy/boy.

(2) On Friday, I had to call an exterminator for another problem with ants, but I did manage to rescue a skink that slunk into the building. I used a time honored technique of scooping it up on a piece of paper, letting it drop, chasing it with the paper, then finally get a hold of it firmly and yet gently enough to get it to the safety of the bushes.

(3) I read another interview with the Guys Read guy (author of The Stinky Cheese Man, Jon Scieszka). I think it is very fair to compare, as he does, the need for special attention to boys and reading to the targeted efforts to engage more girls in math and science.

(4) Also on Friday, I strung fairy lights, as the Brits call them, around a summer reading display called Light Reading.

(5) Read that Miyazaki's new movie, Howl's Moving Castle, is out, and that it's based on a teen novel by Diana Wynne Jones. I did not watch the trailer, but will as soon as I post this. I hid inside this afternoon to avoid the midday heat and watched Castle in the Sky. The fine folks at the Video Fan made me a list, from memory, of his movies when I said I couldn't remember the name, but I wanted to see more by the Spirited Away guy. Good service is a beautiful thing.

(6) Read professional literature, which can lead to learning too much bad news. On the Censorship Watch page of the June/July issue of American Libraries, I learned that Oklahoma passed a resolution that requires all books with homosexual "themes" to be shelved with adult books. The action stemmed from someone unhappy to have picked up the story book King and King. The other items had to do with the sticky territory of circulating "popular" DVDs, a library that forbade e-mail use by patrons on its computers - but backed off to disallow only chat room use, and whether paper sign in sheets for public computers are public records, open for all to view.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Good News Everybody
You will once more find Dan perched at The Marble Bar.

Oops, Style has yet to post today's issue online. They deliver it to NP on Tuesday evening, most weeks. Since Dan writes about public transportation, I wanted to note that a councilman has plans for yet another revival of (rubber-wheeled) trolley service. I move quickly to the selfish on the issue: can I get to the other end of Carytown, without lots of advanced planning, and cheaply? Some days, the walk all the way out and home seems too long, but using the car seems such a waste. My longer trips (VCU, the Library of Va., and downtown generally) are all easily managed on the regular bus. Also in this week's issue, Garland Pollard uses the Backpage to vent his spleen (articulately) on downtown projects. I'll provide links when I get a chance, or got to Style online yourself.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Yes, it was a good idea to leave the window a/c unit (on "Energy Saver," of course) on when I left for work around noon.

Part of me thought, How hot could it be at 9:20 p.m. on the first 90+ degree day of the summer? Can I afford such a bold move? Luckily, the smarter part replied, It could be durned hot n muggy, especially after spending all day in the North Pole Branch. (In fairness to adorable North Park, today was the 3rd or 4th time I was not too cold at work. . . .) The National Weather Service says it's 84 degrees, with 72% humidity.
In the spirit of being about 5 weeks away from the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (on my birthday), here are mini-bios of men named Harry Potter: Meet The Real Harry Potters, on Abebooks.com.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I Want to Be - A Dentist
I went to a new dentist yesterday. That's right, I left the practice I had been going to since I was a child: the people who had space in that c1968 building on Monument at Staples Mill, with the steep back stairs so scary to a 7 year-old; one of the first 10 places I learned to drive to by myself as a teenager.

At this new place, there's a computer screen coming out of the chair. Okay, fine, we are looking at my chart together on the screen. Very nice - here's a slide show of soothing scenes instead of the wallpaper poster of a quiet beach. Oh my freakin goodness! She's taking pictures of the inside of my mouth!! Good lord, I didn't know my teeth were so hideous. I knew I needed old fillings replaced -- I did not need to see the holes taking root next to the worn away silver. I believe you, you're a professional! Make it stop! The awareness that I have a mouth full of gaping [tiny] holes made my teeth hurt all day.

To complement that ache, I went out to Midlothian to pack up four or five boxes of kitchen gear, roll up several rugs, put artwork in the Civic, and unload it all again in K&Q County.

Capital City weather: muggy and rainy

Friday, June 03, 2005

Kudos to Steph S, yet again, for directing me to an excellent website: SWAPATORIUM, a well-illustrated blog of thrift store finds and the like. I've often thought of writing a list of interesting things I see junk shopping, but by the time I get home, I've forgotten what I put on my mental list. And now I see, I need a camera to do it well.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Book Talk

A promising "picture book": Retro-Electro

I am savoring Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist.

I am gobbling up Fforde's Lost in a Good Book.

I enjoyed the YA novel Looking for Alaska. It's about boarding school; it's about teen friendships; it's about surviving loss. It's a little like a teen version of The Secret History.

And yes, I am still poking at Everything Is Illuminated. It's not quite terrible enough to not finish. But it's no longer a priority.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ethics Department

If our book club met, if we already discussed the book (Everything is Illuminated), do I have to finish reading it? Does it matter that I (we) didn't like it? (Too tricksy, too pretentious.)