sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 28, 2009

pseudo-birthday adventure
posted by soe 1:10 pm

Since the 14th ended in tears, I have claimed today as a redo. (Um, yes, I am 35 and not 5, but I really don’t think that’s a relevant point…) It’s 1 o’clock in the afternoon and I’m heading out on my adventures… Wish me luck!

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February 27, 2009

an all-over-the-place kind of day
posted by soe 1:23 pm

It’s up! It’s down! It’s up again! The wildly swinging emotions could take out a small child…


Warm weather…

Slow moving…

Clean, after-shower feeling…

Late for work…

First crocuses — purple!…

Can’t decide if liking book…

Doughnut and tea…

Deli next door to office closing … today…

Made reservations to see Michael’s scene…

Work being slow to get done due to crazy whirling emotions…

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February 26, 2009

style, sweet, and serendipity
posted by soe 12:10 pm

I think being an adult is mostly about the duality of time. Simultaneously you’re slogging through the minutia of daily life — getting the kids fed, going to work, paying bills — and watching as events whirl past in a dizzying frenzy — wasn’t it just Christmas? How have I not seen our friends since the Inauguration?

This episode of Three Beautiful Things has been brought to you by Philosophy, The Study of Life™:

1. As I get dressed this morning, I am reminded of a comment by my previous boss. A fan of reality tv shows, she and some other coworkers mused that I would make a great contestant on one of those what-not-to-wear shows because I would tell the host where to get off. Today’s unique outfit: my old brown plaid skirt, a yellow pullover, orange socks, and my pink roll-brim hat.

2. The flower man added a number of stems of freesia to the bouquet I made on Sunday. “They smell wonderful. I hope you won’t mind if I make you take home a few more stems.” They opened last night and sniffing them takes you to an old-fashioned dance, set by the water, à la Houseboat.

3. Rudi and I were watching the news when the reporter mentioned that police were canvassing an area. As politicos, we were more used to the verb being used in a sense of door-knocking for the purpose of vote getting. Interested in the word, we turned out our dictionaries — his online and my old hard-cover — seeking its origins.

While I do not dispute the perks of having a dictionary always at your fingertips, there’s something about having one where seeking one word can lead you to a nosegay of unrelated ones. In addition to learning more about “canvass,” we also gleaned capapie, captious, and carrefour from my trip into the “c” tab.

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February 25, 2009

into the stacks: 2009.2
posted by soe 3:28 am

You may have noticed: My plan to wrap up reviews of books read in 2008 and begin on those I’ve read so far in 2009 derailed before we got out of the train yard. I still plan on catching up… Here’s hoping it’s sometime soon.

I read many of these stories in December and finished up early last month:

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, by Connie Willis

From the jacket: “This enchanting group of eight tales … begins with the title story, ‘Miracle,’ in which an office worker hopes that her handsome colleague will finally notice her at the company Christmas party. But her carefully devised plans go awry when her guardian angel takes it upon himself to show her the true meaning of love…. A treasure to cherish anytime of the year, this collection boldly reimagines the stories of Christmas and serves as a testament to Connie Willis’s unique genius and skill in bringing the extraordinary to life while conveying the power of human compassion and love.”

My take: I’m pretty sure Connie Willis was a recommended author by some of you way back when, so when I discovered a brand new copy of a collection of holiday short stories by her on the freebie cart at work, I snapped it up.

Generally, I’m not a huge sci fi fan. I find it trends too much toward the dystopian, which I find bleak and depressing. But if this collection of Willis’ is any indication of her other work, I may have to seek more out. These stories, which (mostly) took place in modern time where the supernatural (generally) isn’t expected, tended far more toward the hopeful than I had expected.

The book was comprised of eight stories, and I liked five of them. Three just weren’t my speed, rather than being bad. “Cat’s Paw,” a Sherlock Holmesian murder mystery features talking apes and a biotech lab on Christmas Eve. “In Coppelius’s Toyshop” is about a mean fellow who gets a deserved, if dark, punishment for his outlook on life at an FAO Schwartz-like store. And “The Pony” also seemed a little creepy — making Santa seem more like a stalker than a kindly elf.

Luckily, those three were overshadowed by the other pieces. “Adaptation” is about a divorced bookseller whose seasonal colleagues include Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. “Newsletter” takes on a much mocked Christmas tradition. In it, Nan boasts of the month she’d just had, when everyone around her (except a coworker or two) became eerily cheerful — and started wearing hats. “Miracle” is another office drama. At the office, Lauren is pining for some attention from the hunk down the hallway, hoping he’ll finally notice her at the annual Christmas party. In the meantime, at home, she’s being terrorized by a surfer dude guardian angel, sent by her sister, who wants her to toss her pre-printed holiday cards and prewrapped generic gifts and find the joy of the season embodied by her favorite Christmas movie.

The two best stories, though are “Inn” and “Epiphany.” Oddly enough, both are religious stories. In the former, a choir member at a rehearsal for the Christmas Eve service finds herself at odds with the associate minister of her church on the issue of the homeless and the definition of charity. The story follows what happens when she lets in two young drifters.

In “Epiphany,” Mel, a minister, has abandoned his congregation because of a sudden insight that Christ has arrived for the Second Coming and is in need of him. He battles his own doubts, his agnostic best friend’s concern, winter blizzards, and traffic woes, as he heads west on his pilgrimage. His journey is made only more absurd by the unseasonal caravan of carnival trucks he seems to be following. Yet, “Epiphany” is the story that sticks with me the most. That could be because it’s the final story of the collection. Or because its own ending is the most ambiguous of the bunch. But I think it’s because its characters’ quest parallels our own quest for meaning in the modern world.

A great collection. I’ll be keeping this to re-read during future holiday seasons.

Pages: 328

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February 23, 2009

monday morning music: chelsea morning
posted by soe 8:16 am

Last week I thought of lots of things that would make great fodder for this blog post, but I neglected to note any of them down. Luckily, though, I knew my inspirations were either my music libraries on the computer here or at work, my iPod, or Kat’s blog.

And Kat’s blog jogged my memory a bit. Hearing her play “The Circle Game” reminded me of my favorite song of Joni Mitchell’s. I bought used copies of Ladies of the Canyon and Clouds the same day at Middletown’s cd store on Main Street back in the late ’90s. Rudi and I had a major Joni thing for a few years and maybe these were a birthday present. Rudi, any recollection?

Sam generously gave me the opportunity to see Joni once before she retired. He and I caught her and Bob Dylan perform at Madison Square Garden one night in 1998. Her voice was going, but you couldn’t help but be impressed.

Anyway, this is Joni much earlier — on the Dick Cavett Show in August 1969 — performing “Chelsea Morning.” Ignore the costumes and the sets and just listen to her sing. Amazing.

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a weekend
posted by soe 2:16 am


It’s Sunday night and the weekend is over — yet again.

How does that happen so quickly? I mean, it’s 2 1/2 days. It should last longer, shouldn’t it?

I meant to get more done. I meant to clean the apartment. I meant to send off those ridiculously late Christmas presents. I meant to block Gramma’s quilt. I meant to get caught up on book reviews. I meant to… Well, you get the picture.

You also probably guessed that none of those things happened.

Friday night, I don’t quite remember. I know I went to the store to buy cat food, dodging several weird guys who seemed to think I was interested in them. (Freaks.) I picked up pizza. I watched Numbers and Conan O’Brian’s final show before he heads off to California to succeed Jay Leno. That might have been it…

Yesterday, I got up when Rudi left for his bike ride. I read some emails and some blogs and some of my book. I went to the library. I took a nearly 6 mile stroll out and about without a coat. (I was wearing a sweater and scarf.) I may have taunted a gang of out-of-town teenagers, but if I did, they started it. I finally got a chance to try a cupcake from Baked and Wired, which I enjoyed with a chai down on the Potomac. (The cupcake was the best I’ve had in D.C. and definitely merits a return trip.) I saw what hopefully will be the first blooming daffodils later this week. I did some grocery shopping done, although I forgot to buy sugar. I celebrated these accomplishments with a nap with Jeremiah and Della after I realized that nodding off at the computer was just silly. And I finished the night with a lovely chili dinner and movie night with Rudi and an early night in bed.

Today, we slept in. We hit the farmers’ market, where, because of a freak storm, there were lots of veggies and flowers still to be had. I drank lots of tea. I did some laundry and some dishes. I sorted through my clothing, doing the seasonal purge and put together a huge bag of things that should go to Goodwill. I finished knitting my hat, the first thing I’ve finished for me in more than six months, while watching the Oscars. (I’ll share it with you later this week after Rudi has a chance to photograph it for me.) I talked to my family and to Rudi’s mom and to Susan. We contemplated our finances, the worth of our cars, and the D.C. real estate market. And I will finish my book and wash a load of dishes before heading to bed in the next hour.

Okay, so I take it back. I can see how 2 1/2 days could go by, just like that. It was a good weekend, after all.

How was your weekend?

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