sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 22, 2006

pods, cool, and wings
posted by soe 9:03 am

We’re on a plane right now headed out west for a wedding and some family and friend visiting. So next week’s beautiful things may have a left-coast-tinged viewpoint. But in the meantime, here are several beautiful things from the home front from the last week:

1. English peas at the farm market this week. When I was little I hated cooked peas, but straight from the garden they were a whole different story. I can take cooked peas or leave them nowadays but eating them out of the pod is still delectable.

2. Sunday was an August-like day. Hazy, hot, and humid. I decided to celebrate it by a trip to Eastern Market to look for a wedding present and to the local yarn shop to see if they had anything that I needed to buy during their sale. Then I had to run a few more errands. By the time I got back to the house, I was pink (from the heat, not from the sun) and dripping — totally disgusting. But then I got to take a nice tepid shower and I felt reborn and renewed (at least until I headed back outside).

3. On my way home on the Metro tonight, I passed a family sitting on a bench waiting for their train. The little girl had on a pink t-shirt and had pink, sparkly wings festooning her back. She looked just like a fairy — and maybe she was.

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June 21, 2006

days before vacations suck
posted by soe 3:18 pm

If sucky things can happen the day before a vacation, they will.

People monopolized the washing machine last night. Did they not smell the mildewy smell in the hallway from the soggy things that require washing?

Last night the iPod broke. It’s under warranty, so I should be fine. But the store I bought it from had no time for me today. Luckily there’s another Metro-accessible store where I was able to make an 8 p.m. appointment. Keep your fingers crossed that I leave the store with a working iPod.

I had a four-hour meeting today. And another phone meeting in 20 minutes. There are still four other things on my work to-do list.

I need to do laundry — and have it dry. I need to pack.

I need to decide on books and knitting projects to take with me. These are important choices with two cross-country flights in the plan. What if I don’t like the first book? I only have 130 pages left in the book I’m currently reading. Do I leave it behind in favor of a book I haven’t started yet. Should I bring the tank top? Or start Rudi’s other sock? Should I forego taking a shawl and bring the shawl that’s sitting on my needles with the idea that I’ll definitely finish it if I need to wear it on Saturday night?

Ack! Ack! Ack!

I need to remember to breathe…

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June 20, 2006

wet wet wet
posted by soe 11:56 am

Our bedroom flooded last night.

This was inconvenient timing because we have a house guest through the end of the week, which means that space is at a premium in the Burrow for the moment. At least Sam is an old friend (who has seen us at our messiest) who doesn’t mind sharing the living room with all our laundry.

On the other hand, the timing could have been much worse because the Burrow will be unattended for four days while we’re out in California. How awful would it have been to come home to a flooded (and probably by that point mildewed) bedroom?!

The rug we had in the bedroom prevented the waters from seeping into the living room. Mum and I bought it before my sophomore year of college and it was nice in all the many places it ultimately lived. But it was 13 years old and it’s hard to feel devastated about an inexpensive rug biting the dust after all that time. Some books need to dry in a substantial way and our duvet will need to go to the cleaner (probably time for that anyway). The box a painting was sitting in got wet, but the painting did not. A broken laundry basket we hadn’t gotten around to throwing away (and which I’d meant to get rid of last week before Sam and Alexis arrived) prevented a lot of things from getting wet. (All the knitters reading this can rest assured that all my yarn sits in a cabinet three feet off the floor; I can’t even say that about the books!) All in all, while this was not what I wanted to come home to after work on a Monday evening, it could have been much, much worse.

My family seems to be plagued by recurrent flooding. My folks’ old house was on a slab floor (meaning it has no basement) and in addition to the minor spot flooding they’d get during nasty rainstorms and hurricanes, they also had devastational flooding twice in just over 18 months. It was bad enough that they had to replace the carpeting both times. Then they moved into their new house where they’ve had minor flooding once as well as a mildew attack in the basement. Gramma’s roof sprung a leak last winter and seeped into an unused room where it caused some mildew problems. Our living room flooded last year. The only really surprising thing is that none of us lived in New Orleans when it ended up under water last year.

There has to be a novel in all of this somewhere. Anybody got a great first line for it?

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June 19, 2006

thumbs down
posted by soe 10:56 am

Sam and Alexis have been in town and we wrapped up a fun weekend with a trip to see Nacho Libre last night. It was by the guy who did Napoleon Dynamite, which I loved, and it looked like it could be fun in that same kind of quirky way.

Alas, it was not to be. Jack Black (who plays a semi-priest-cum-Mexican wrestler with heart) cannot get beyond playing … Jack Black. He’d manage for a little while and then there would be a moment where he could either stay in character or revert to himself and never did he opt for sticking with the character. He gets that look that I see on the faces of precocious little kids who know they’re doing something cute (and often slightly wrong). It’s obvious that he thinks he’s very funny.

He was good in School of Rock, where he played himself. He was fine in High Fidelity, where he also didn’t need to stretch his acting abilities. Rudi tells me that he was convincingly someone else in King Kong, but I wouldn’t be able to confirm that because it wasn’t the sort of movie that appealed to me.

The guy who played Esqueleto, Nacho’s sidekick, was funny, but he was a Pedro redux from Napoleon days. And the kids were cute and convincing playing … kids.

But this movie is really about “just Jack” and Jack is just too much for me to want to take in large doses. This movie gave me about 45 minutes too much.

Unless you really like Jack Black, I’d suggest saving your tens and seeing The Heart of the Game instead.

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June 18, 2006

into the stacks 5.1
posted by soe 10:59 pm

Since I have joined Kat with a K’s Summer Reading Program, I feel I ought to give updates a bit more often than once a month. So I figured I’d aim for a post on the books of the week (or, in this case, fortnight).

So far this month, I have read:

Pericles, by William Shakespeare
From the Shakespeare Theatre (because the book jacket is lame): “Pericles begins in Antioch, where Prince Pericles of Tyre must unravel a riddle to win the hand of a princess. But when Pericles discovers King Antiochus and his daughter’s terrible secret, he must flee for his life. Pericles sets sail—traveling from kingdom to kingdom—falling in love with a princess (Thaisa) and conceiving a child (Marina). After a terrible storm strikes their ship at sea, father, mother and daughter are separated. ”

Why this book? The Shakespeare Theatre was performing Pericles as its Free for All performance and I’d never read it. A few years ago, Karen, Rudi, Michael, and I went to see a performance of a Shakespeare history play that I hadn’t read and it was very confusing. I recognized Falstaff and the king of England and eventually figured out that another character must have been the French king, but it was a less than ideal play-watching experience. I didn’t want to be caught out again, so I read the first four acts before we saw the play. (I finished the final act today, since it’s always nice to be surprised by the ending of a play when you’re seeing it for the first time.)

My take: Pericles is a lesser-known Shakespearean play for a reason. The first half is believed to have been written by another playwright and it’s all based on an epic poem by the 14th century poet Gower (who appears as the narrator in the play (although not in the staged version we saw)). Apparently the story was well-known at the time, but it was definitely full of unrealistic melodrama by today’s standards. I mean with two assassination attempts, incest, a shipwreck, a birth and death at sea, a pirate attack, a brothel, and slavery in its slim 163 pages, it packs almost as much action in as a soap opera episode. The story at the heart of the play is a sweet one, nonetheless, and the ending is happy. The whole story is far-fetched, but it’s fiction and allowed. Worth reading if you haven’t already.

Pages: 163

Hoot, by Carl Hiassen
From the book jacket: “Roy Eberhardt is used to the new-kid drill. His family has lived all over, and Florida bullies are pretty much like bullies everywhere. But Roy finds himself oddly indebted to the hulking Dana Matherson. If Dana hadn’t been mashing his face against the school bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is the first interesting thing Roy’s seen in Florida. . . . Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase will introduce him to some other intriguing Floridian creatures: potty-trained alligators, a sinister pancake PR man, some burrowing owls, a fake-fart champion, a renegade eco-avenger, and several poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails.”

Why this book? I was in the kids’ room at the library and this popped out at me. I knew it had recently been made into a movie and that the book had good pre-movie hype, so I thought it might be time to check it out.

My take: Somehow Hiassen’s name makes me think of gross-out books and I don’t know why. Maybe his adult books are less appetizing? But this story was sweet and reminded me a bit of Louis Sacher’s Holes, but without the prison element or the magical realism. Essentially it focuses on how you develop a personal code of ethics and how far you take it. I really liked the main character who seemed to be an average sort of teen boy with a bit too much curiosity for his own good. Worth a read as well as a good gift for a young person in your life.

Pages: 292

The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”, by C.S. Lewis
From the book jacket: “How King Caspian sailed through magic waters to the End of the World”

Why this book? As you might have seen in the earlier issues, I’ve been re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia since the movie came out last winter.

My take: The Narnian characters go sailing! Yes, there are a few other things going on the book — slavery, a child being turned into a dragon, invisible people — but it’s pretty much just Narnia on water. Not as good as the original.

Pages: 216

Gatsby’s Girl, by Caroline Preston
From the book jacket: “Just as Jay Gatsby was haunted by Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald was haunted by his own great first love — a Chicago socialite named Ginevra. Alluring, capricious, and ultimately unavailable, she would become his first muse, the inspiration for such timeless characters as Gatsby’s Daisy and Isabelle Borgé in This Side of Paradise. . . . Now, in this richly imagined and ambitious novel, Preston deftly evokes the entire sweep of Ginevra’s life — from her first meeting with Scott to the second act of her sometimes charmed, sometimes troubled life.”

Why this book? I read an excerpt on NPR’s website and thought it seemed like it had potential.

My take: I liked it. Ginevra starts off as your stereotypical debutante — spoiled, rich, and willful. But as time goes on she becomes more than that. She grows — through her reading of Fitzgerald’s books, through seeing herself as a Peter Pan-type of spoiled heroine, and through hearing of Fitzgerald’s frustrated life. By the very end of the book, you feel that she’s grown in ways that Fitzgerald was never capable of — and perhaps in ways that he never realized one could grow.

Pages: 310

Total: 4 books, 981 pages

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June 15, 2006

one day more, orange, and movie friends
posted by soe 4:13 pm

Three beautiful things from the last week:

1. Our friends Sam and Alexis are coming to visit this weekend. Rudi was under the impression that they arrived tonight, but they aren’t in fact coming until tomorrow. This gives us an extra day to clean. (Not getting to spend Thursday evening with them is not, however, a beautiful thing.)

2. While on my Sunday bike ride along the C&O Canal, I saw a Baltimore Oriole fly by. He had the brightest plumage and just looked so jolly.

3. I won passes to see The Heart of the Game, which is a documentary about a Seattle high school basketball team, at a local movie theater last week and invited Amani to go with me. She and I are the only two people I know in town who played high school basketball, so I figured we both might see something in it that those who hadn’t played the sport would. (I think that was true, but anyone who loves women’s basketball, sports in general, seeing kids triumph over their personal situations, or an underdog story would enjoy it as well.) Amani gave me a ride home and we chattered most of the way about playing basketball, high school vs. college teams, Division I vs. Division III teams, and boys’ vs. girls’ games, as well as societal implications brought up by the film. I had forgotten how much fun seeing a movie just with a girl friend could be and I fear Rudi may get ditched a bit more often in favor of such outings.

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