June 30, 2010
ten on tuesday: summer reading
posted by soe 1:44 am
I am not on Carole’s official list of participants in the Ten on Tuesday party, but since this week’s topic took a literary bent, I’m gate crashing:
10 Books on Your Summer Reading List*
- Matilda by Roald Dahl — Other people my age were fed a steady diet of Dahl growing up, but he wasn’t part of our household canon. Plus the main character really likes to read, judging by the cover.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum — I’ve read two of the later Oz books (and a more modern adaptation), but never the original.
- The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall — A book about summer vacation. I’m hoping for something Eageresque. (These first three are part of getting caught up on the Top 100 Childrenâ€™s Books from the School Library Journal.)
- Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright — Karen rightly pointed out that you can’t very well get caught up on the 100 best kids’ books without re-reading a few favorites. This is another great summer read.
- At Home by Bill Bryson — This was on my list as soon as I heard he had a new book coming out (and has catapulted toward the top now that I have my hands on an ARC (advanced reader copy). He’s my favorite non-fiction author.
- Greenwitch by Susan Cooper — The next installment in the Dark Is Rising series. (Yes, I know in a year when people are eagerly waiting for new books to come out in favorite series that it’s funny that the sequel I’m most excited about was published the year I was born.)
- Sun in the Morning by M.M. Kaye — One of Karen’s recommendations (which are nearly always good) and one of the books I’m reading for the Nonfiction Five challenge this summer
- The Invisible Kingdom: From the Tips of Our Fingers to the Tops of Our Trash, Inside the Curious World of Microbes by Idan Ben-Barak — Another one of the nonfiction summer reads. I started this back in February as a work assignment but it actually seemed interesting!
- Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link — Already in my Goodreads queue, this got bumped up when it was recommended based on the previous five books I’d read.
- The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver — I bought this last winter when I heard her read from it just after it was published. It’s been sitting next to the computer waiting for me to feel epically inclined. Hopefully soon!
What’s on your summer reading list?
*This is all non-binding, of course.
June 29, 2010
a farmers’ market dinner
posted by soe 1:30 am
Tonight’s dinner — fresh from local fields (and dairies and bakeries):
- Corn on the cob
- Slices of baguette with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella
- Yogurt with apricots, golden raspberries, blueberries, sour cherries, and honey (with store-bought almond slices, coconut, and nearly useless in yogurt granola)
June 28, 2010
posted by soe 12:42 am
I’m not even going to attempt to make connections between these random bits of brain natterings:
- This was one of the few weekends during the year that I had to work. It wasn’t too bad because a) the people in charge work just as hard as the people who report to them, b) I got to knit during the downtime, and c) I procured a pile of free books.
- Unfortunately, it does mean that I feel a little resentful that tomorrow is Monday and I haven’t had any time off.
- Gardens need to be watered. Sometimes Mother Nature gives you a helping hand and waters your plants for you. When she doesn’t, you need to step into the gap. When you don’t — and when the temperatures hover in the mid-90s for a week — you should not be surprised to return to your plot to discover your pea vines have turned yellow and your bean crop is small.
- Someone did fill the water barrels in the garden back up, though, so we were able to give the garden a good soaking tonight.
- As part of the unofficial kiddie lit readalong that Mikaiya and I are doing, I am re-reading the first Harry Potter novel. I’m just about to turn the page when Harry wakes up on his first Christmas morning at Hogwarts, and I’m so excited for him.
- I would be hard-pressed to tell you whether I have now re-read The Sorcerer’s Stone or Little Women more times.
- First corn of the season this evening. Delicious and sweet — it’s clearly summer now!
- Also, mango lassis are especially nice on a sultry night.
- A friend gave (!!) me a Wii Fit last month and it has been sitting unopened in our living room for weeks now. Last night I broke it out and got it started up.
- So far I am best at the hula-hooping game.
- I am currently working on three socks and reading three books. It’s odd for it to be so parallel.
- I need to go wash the dinner dishes and put away some produce so I can go to bed.
June 24, 2010
sing me a song, slurp, and baby fat
posted by soe 11:18 pm
This morning I deliberately and flagrantly walked under a ladder. Do you think that’s related to the three subsequent wardrobe malfunctions I had? But instead of listing those, instead let’s list three beautiful things from the past week:
1. Along our walk home Friday night, our ultra-serious conversation about politics and values and discrimination takes a more lighthearted turn and we end up talking about ear worms, those songs that just get stuck in your head and refuse to budge. John shares his remedy — the theme song from Pinky and the Brain. When I reply that I’m not familiar enough with the show to know the song and that he and Rudi would just have to sing it for me, they do, right there in Dupont Circle. [Apologies to those of you who now have that song stuck in your head.]
2. The first stone fruit of the season arrive at the farmers’ market. I sit at my desk with a rosy, golden nectarine and fragrant juice runs down my arms.
3. A local mother is getting ready to head out with her baby. The stroller is turned from us, but we both admire the one chubby foot we can see.
It’s a good week when you have trouble narrowing your selections down to three, don’t you think?
How about you? Share something beautiful from your week in the comments.
June 23, 2010
into the stacks: queen zixi of ix
posted by soe 12:19 am
Queen Zixi of Ix; or The Story of the Magic Cloak, by L. Frank Baum
From the jacket: “When the renowned author of the wonderful Oz stories surpasses himself with a full-blown fairy tale, complete with magic wishes, palace life, an evil hag, and a poor boy and girl, we know we are in for something exceptional in story-telling.”
My take: In this lesser known tale by L. Frank Baum, the good fairy queen Lulea and her band of fairies decide to alleviate her boredom with dancing by creating a magical wishing cloak that will grant each wearer a single wish unless they have come by the garment in an underhanded means. The Man in the Moon suggests they give to the first unhappy person they encounter. After all, he points out, “The happy mortals have no need of magic cloaks.”
They dispense the cloak by messenger to the land of Noland, where the king has just died without an heir. After several days of hand-wringing by his cabinet, they remember eventually that they had a book of laws to refer to for occasions just such as these. The book decrees that the 47th person to enter the capital city’s eastern gate at dawn shall be declared ruler of the kingdom.
Approaching the city of Nole are three miserable travellers: the newly orphaned Margaret (known to all as Fluff) and Timothy (called Bud) and their stern guardian, Aunt Rivette. Bud and his aunt butt heads constantly, leaving Fluff in an endless stream of tears.
These three events conspire to land Bud on the throne of the land and Fluff in a more cheerful state of mind. They are whisked off to the castle, where they live happily for a good while, enjoying the periodic and accidental dispensing of odd wishes — from wings to a talking dog — to various people who unknowingly come into contact with the cloak.
It is not a perfect life in Noland, though, for there are enemies gathered outside the boundaries of the land. Queen Zixi of the adjoining Ix was not on speaking terms with her neighbors. A 683-year-old enchantress who had found a way to appear eternally youthful, she immediately coveted the magic cloak when she heard tell of its existence. She yearns to use it to turn the wrinkled visage she sees in the mirror to the same outward beauty her subjects see. And she’s not above using both trickery and force to try to get her hands on it.
Along another border, the Roly-Rogues, a quarrelsome, ball-shaped, bouncy people, have discovered the existence of the Nolanders and seek to invade and take over the land and its people.
Will the cloak be able to save them? Or will its wishes be squandered by foolish mortals?
This fairy tale is sweet and would make a good read-aloud bedtime book for families. And apparently Baum also created a silent film version of the story, which is available on dvd.
This is one of the books I read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.
June 22, 2010
into the stacks: the necromancer
posted by soe 2:54 am
The Necromancer, by Michael Scott
From the jacket: “Josh and Sophie Newman are finally home. And they’re both more confused than ever about their future. Neither of them has mastered the magics they’ll need to protect themselves, they’ve lost Scatty, and they’re still being pursued by Dr. John Dee. Most disturbing of all, however, is that now they must ask themselves, can they trust Nicholas Flamel? Can they trust anyone?”
My take: Taking up where The Sorceress left off, the Newman twins and the Flamels have returned to San Francisco. They haven’t even made it in the house, though, when Sophie is kidnapped by their friend Scatty’s less upright twin sister, Aoife. In order to reclaim his sister, Josh must put aside his misgivings about the Flamels and unite at least temporarily with the rapidly aging couple. And they must somehow do this quietly, as Macchiavelli and Billy the Kid have returned to Alcatraz to unleash the monsters and John Dee, now branded an outlaw with a Gods-given price on his head, has united with fellow immortal Virginia Dare to also reach San Francisco. There they hope to find a way to rule the world themselves by reanimating a hideous monster from the past. And on another plane in another time, Scatty, Joan, Saint-Germain, Will, and Palamedes have all been reunited with a hook-handed, hooded man who has a different mission for them.
In fantasy series, the middle book is always supposed to be where things really start going downhill and where the tone becomes much darker, and this tome does not vary from the standard fantasy format. Unfortunately, I also worry this is the book in the series where the ambition has not lived up to execution. Because there are now four distinct storylines, the story occasionally feels a bit disjointed and I, at least, never felt like I was getting enough of one thread before being whisked off to the next. The book is still good (just less good than some of the earlier books), and I’m eager to read what happens in the next installment.
This is one of the books I read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.