sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

July 21, 2017


good news, setting, and fort reno
posted by soe 1:25 am

I’m having a melancholy evening, so it’s good to think back on my past week and find three of the beautiful things from it:

1. Friends have been sharing the beautiful things going on in their lives — new houses, positive diagnoses, vacations now and in the future — and I’m thrilled for all of them and appreciative that they want to share their good fortune with me.

2. We’ve been watching the Tour de France (as we do every year), and this week has been full of sunflower coverage (they also show castles, churches, naked spectators, and cyclists).

3. Fort Reno is a park built on the grounds of one of D.C.’s Civil War-era fortifications, is the highest point in the city and home to a decades-old summer punk concert series. This makes it an excellent spot to watch unencumbered summer sunsets while bands perform for free. Monday evening got an positive rating for weather, view, and music, all of which outdid themselves.

and a bonus:

4. Rudi trimmed off the beard he grew after his surgery.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world recently?

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July 19, 2017


into the stacks 2017: march
posted by soe 1:34 am

March was a slow reading month, with only three books finished, so I thought I’d get the books reviewed before any more time had elapsed:

The Harlem Charade, by Natasha Tarpley

As Jin is trying to figure out an aspect of the Harlem Renaissance to cover for her Harlem-themed class project, a local kid digs up a painting believed to be by an artist of that time period in a community garden and then an old man is attacked in the same vicinity. Teaming up with her philanthropic, but mysterious, classmate Alex and Elvin, who’s been living on the streets for a few days since his grandfather was attacked (and with help from BFF fashionista Rose), Jin feels she must unravel a mystery that seems to be at the heart of her neighborhood, even as her community is threatened by gentrification in the form of a developer who wants to build a Harlem World theme park in the very blocks where Jin’s grandparents’ bodega now sits.

This had the same feel as Chris Grabenstein’s Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s The Book Scavenger, and Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society, as well as older books like The Westing Game and The Egypt Game, but with a historical twist to the urban mystery and considering bigger questions about gentrification, voice, art, and community. If your middle-grade reader enjoys mysteries, I definitely recommend this one.

Pages: 320. Library copy.


The Job, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

After master thief Nicolas Fox is framed for some art thefts, his partner and FBI handler Kate O’Hare must help figure out who’s behind them, which leads to the need to take down the world’s biggest drug kingpin. The only problem? No one knows what he looks like after he had major plastic surgery. But Nick knows his favorite brand of rare chocolates, so it’s just a matter of following the trail back to a mystery man and his murderous henchwoman. Oh, and then taking them down, which involves getting the gang of Kate’s retired black-ops dad, actor Boyd, and driver Willie (among others) back together to procure a boat and mock up a sunken treasure. Ridiculous? Certainly! A fun romp? Most definitely!

Pages: 289. Library audiobook copy, borrowed via Overdrive.


Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, by Cathy Camper, with artwork by Raúl Gonzalez III

Lupe Impala (a wolf), Elirio Malaria (a mosquito), and El Chavo Octopus (obviously) must leave their garage in search of their cat, Genie, being held in the center of the earth by the Aztec god Mictlantecuhtli himself. There’s a tricked out ride, a luchador match, a whole lot of animated skeletons, and a run-in with La Llorona, a Latinx ghost mother, who mistakes El Chavo for one of her drowned children. This Cybils-winning graphic novel for middle-graders sprinkles Spanish generously throughout, as well as providing information on folklore, and a little bit of geology for good measure. I could see it being an excellent fit with upper elementary and middle school reluctant readers, the sort of kids at whom the Wimpy Kid books are aimed at. It offers a lot of action and humor, but has some substance to back it up.

Pages: 128. Library copy.


Book stats:
3 books
737 pages
2 print, 1 audiobook
3 library copies, 1 owned
All fiction
Diverse main character(s): 2
Audience: 1 adult, 2 MG

Author stats:
3 women, 1 man (+1 male artist)
Own voices: 2 (including the artist of the graphic novel)
Country of residence: All American

Category: books. There is/are 2 Comments.

July 18, 2017


mid-july weekending: the rest of it
posted by soe 1:09 am

After the museum trip on Friday, the rest of the weekend was uneventful but pleasant. We watched Tour de France coverage both days and I made progress on my Tour de France Knitalong project, the baby blanket, which needs to be done in less than two weeks. The cotton is starting to take its toll on my wrists, though, so I’ll be glad to see it done. I mean, plus the baby is already here, so there’s that.

We visited a new-to-us pool, as well as our usual one. The new one was nice and had the advantage of being fully in the sun and smaller and shallower than Francis, which meant it was a lot like floating around in the bath, if you shared your bath with a bunch of kids who didn’t especially care you were there. I’ll definitely stop in at Jelleff again if I’m trying to fit both a trip to the library and one to the pool in and am inching toward closing time for both.

We picked things from the garden and mourned another tomato lost to the bite of a squirrel. (I will steal pieces of strawberries back from slugs, but I’m not convinced that’s so healthy to do with rodents.) We did chores and ate homemade pizza, and I sat in the park. and the middle episode of Tennyson and cheered that the next Doctor Who is a woman.

Today was National Ice Cream Day, but I thought it was yesterday, so we had to eat ice cream twice. Shucks! Darn! The first time we topped it with homemade dulce de leche Rudi’s friends gave us and the second time with raspberries and blueberries.


Ice Cream Eve

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

I traded books and dvds at the library and finished two books, one on audio and one in print, both of which I enjoyed. I started a new one I just picked up that got a lot of buzz at one of the conferences earlier this year. Doesn’t it look good? I hope we can judge it by that metric!

Frogkisser!

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a trip to the african american museum
posted by soe 12:51 am

My weekend began a little early on Friday because Sarah’s sister had extra tickets to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which remains so popular that you either need to reserve space months ahead or wait in line for a giveaway spot. Being lazy, I’d opted to do neither, figuring that sooner or later all hot spots die down and eventually I’d be able to just stroll in. Or as strolly as one gets in D.C., where walking into practically any venue requires either showing an ID or going through a metal detector or both. (I remain grateful that none of the D.C. libraries requires such ridiculousness.)

Where was I? Right! So we spent the afternoon at the museum, sort of with our friends Michael and Julia and sort of not, since we split up, regrouped, and split up again, which meant Julia was done about 45 minutes before the rest of us, but that’s because Rudi and I stopped and had a late lunch partway through.

Ida B. Wells Quote

Here are just a few of the things we saw during our 4+ hours at the museum: (more…)

Category: arts,dc life. There is/are 2 Comments.

July 14, 2017


picnic, outdoors, and running off to the circus
posted by soe 8:40 am

Last night was one of those times when I dozed off on the couch with audiobook and cat and knitting before writing my blog post. So you get my three beautiful things from this past week, which also counts for Carole & Kat’s Think Write Thursday, this morning instead:

Summer Evening

1. A group of us gathered for a Friday evening picnic. The band was doing ’80s covers, there was a breeze (which admittedly turned into a bit of a less beautiful wind strong enough to throw Sarah’s beer at her), and we could see fireworks in the distance.

2. We’re now fully into outdoor movie season where you can catch a flick nearly any night if you’re willing to travel a bit, so Rudi and I tempered hot days of a heat wave spent indoors with nights spent in parks. We watched A League of Their Own on the riverbank in Georgetown and Raiders of the Lost Ark in the park by our house. Living in a city, anytime you can find a grassy area, the temperature is at least five degrees cooler and proximity to a river will drop it another five.

3. Every year, the Smithsonian puts on a FolkLife Festival in the two weeks on either side of July 4th. This year marked its 50th anniversary, so they did it up big by taking us to the circus, giving us trapeze artists, aerialists, acrobats, jugglers, tightrope walkers, and even one of the 70 remaining sword swallowers left in the United States:

Circus Arts -- Puppetry

Circus Arts -- Trapeze Artists

Circus Arts -- Trapeze Artists

Circus Arts -- Acrobatic Dancers

Circus Arts -- Tightrope Walkers

Circus Arts -- Aerialist

Circus Arts -- Sword Swallower

Circus Arts -- Sword Swallower

Circus Arts -- After the Show

(All those indoor shots are of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.)

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world recently?

Category: three beautiful things. There is/are 6 Comments.

July 13, 2017


into the stacks 2017: february
posted by soe 1:41 am

Half-Finished Blanket and Finished Novel

Instead of telling you what I’m still reading and knitting now (Book: finished tonight; excellent. Knitting: just past the halfway done point before the borders; baby arrived last week) for Kat’s Unraveled Wednesday, I’ll show you a photo and move on to reviews of the four books I read way back in February: (more…)

Category: books,knitting. There is/are 4 Comments.