sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 19, 2010

fluffy pajamas, free show, and growth (and service)
posted by soe 9:46 pm

Did you realize there’s only one more Thursday in August after today? No, neither did I. Alas, it would seem that if you want to spend the rest of your summer soaking up the rays and eating barbecue, you’d better get out there this weekend…

Here are three things from my past week that struck me as beautiful:

1. Way back in the spring, Sarah and I went to a yarn festival, where we also bought some soap. Mine has been sitting on my bookshelf waiting for us to need a soap refill — a moment that finally arrived over the weekend. The scent I chose, Fluffy Pajamas, is mild and comforting and makes me extra excited to perform my daily ablutions.

2. Erin McKeown was this evening’s Millennium Stage performer. Since I would gladly pay money to see her (and have), I was delighted that I could get out of work and over to the Kennedy Center in time to catch her set. I’m even more excited to hear that she’ll be performing locally again in October. (Also, you can watch Erin, too, if you’d like in the archived version of her performance.)

3. As I was trying to get some unruly plants to stay in my garden plot rather than straying into the common paths, I looked down and found that one of my plants had grown this:

A peanut!

One of my plants has a baby peanut! I covered it up to keep it nice and toasty until harvest time in the fall.

ETA: I forgot one! I worked from home on Monday waiting for a perishable package that had been mis-routed to Little Rock and delayed. While portions of the experience were frustrating, I was highly impressed when the mail carrier telephoned me to say that she’d seen all the notes I’d left saying I was home but that I clearly wasn’t hearing her knocking on our outside door and could I please come sign for the box. Institutions may sometimes fail, but people come through in the end.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your life this week?

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August 18, 2010

wednesday random ten
posted by soe 3:52 pm

You know the routine: Hit shuffle on your favorite music player and record unedited the first ten songs it opts to play. Here are mine from my iPod:

1. “Moon over the Freeway” — The Ditty Bops
2. “Madagascar” (Push Remix) — Art of Trance
3. “Bajo Otra Luz” — Nelly Furtado featuring Julieta Venegas &
4. “Needles and Pins” — The Searchers
5. “Messiah: Part II, No. 44” — London Symphony
6. “Chicken Fried” — Zac Brown Band
7. “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree” — Mel & Kim (Yeah, nothing ever really gets deleted from my iPod. I would have been shocked if a Christmas song hadn’t come up…)
8. “Taxi” (live) — Harry Chapin
9. “Daydreamer” — Adele
10. “Crazy” — Gnarls Barkley

I have to say: This may be one of the more eclectic playlists my iPod has ever come up with.

What does your iPod/cd changer/etc. think you’d like to listen to today?

Category: arts. There is/are 3 Comments.

into the stacks: heat
posted by soe 1:44 am

Heat by Mike Lupica

From the jacket: “Michael Arroyo grows up in the shadows of hallowed Yankee Stadium, a boy forever on the outside looking in. His only chance to see his field of dreams? Pitch his Bronx all-star team to the district finals and a shot ta the Little League World Series. But there is a problem. Michael is good — too good. Rival coaches and players can’t believe a boy could be this good and be only twelve years old.”

My take: Ace pitcher Michael, his 17-year-old brother Carlos, and their Papi are relatively recent arrivals in New York, having escaped from Cuba with the hope of getting the gifted Michael to the Little League World Series and, eventually, to the Majors.

All is progressing according to plan: Michael is feeling great both from the mound and at the plate. He and his best friend Manny, a fast-talking catcher with a secret passion for dance, books, and movies, are part of an unbelievably good summer all-star team in the Bronx. And there’s this beautiful girl named Ellie who’s started showing up at the playing field some days who’s got a wicked arm and a great laugh.

You’d think life just couldn’t get any better for Michael until an opposing father/coach writes a letter to the local Little League saying he suspects Michael is older than he’s allowed to be, and the league votes to suspend Michael until he and his family can produce his birth certificate to prove his age. Suddenly, life has just gotten much more complicated, threatening to reveal a secret that Michael is guarding closely and that could get him and his loved ones into a lot of trouble.

Sports columnist Lupica has created an interesting backstory for his main character and his secondaries and does not feel obligated to share all of it with us. This helps to make the characters feel like people with stories outside of the confines of the novel. Also, there were several spots in the book where I thought, “Oh, so this is where the story is going to go.” And often it didn’t. I don’t know if those were intentional false leads or if Lupica just, as Jasper Fforde puts it, built himself a lot of off-ramps that he didn’t end up needing, but, again, it works.

I think this is a book that a lot of boys would really like. Michael’s not an outwardly emotional character, but he’s got a lot going on beneath the surface. He feels out of control in his life, but when he’s on a baseball field that all slips into the background. Plus, Manny makes an awesome best friend. The boys try to solve their own problems without getting adults involved, which recalls to mind a number of poor interesting choices I made as a teenager because I could see grownups were just going to complicate things. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, merely that it’s real.

It’s not just boys who’ll like the book, though. Anyone with an appreciation for a well-told tale focusing on the underdog also will close the back cover with a smile on their face. I’m glad I picked it up.

Pages: 220

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August 16, 2010

sunday market basket: mid-august edition
posted by soe 12:10 am

Today, as always, we hit the farmers’ market and came home with a variety of tasty things, including:

  • Corn on the cob
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Yellow and white peaches and yellow nectarines
  • Grapes — These are grapier than the ones I bought two weeks ago.
  • Dahlias
  • Tomatillos
  • Onions and hot peppers
  • Fresh mozzarella, milk, and yogurt
  • Figs
  • Old-fashioned varieties of apples
  • And something new to us — a bitter melon — Ours resembles that second picture in the Description section. No idea what we’re going to do with it, so if you have suggestions, I’d love it if you left them in the comments…
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August 12, 2010

om, energy, and happily ever after for the day
posted by soe 11:29 pm

Thursday again! Is it possible they’re coming faster than they used to? Regardless, here are three beautiful things that happened since the last one rolled around:

1. The sound of an entire room reverberating on “om” at the end of a yoga class is magical.

2. Arcade Fire, an 8-member band from Canada, fills up the stage with multiple instruments and people running from one to the next, but it’s honestly one of the most joy-filled stage shows I’ve seen. They whip the crowd up to a frenzy and leave everyone in a happy mood to head home.

3. Rudi and I head to the Circle to enjoy the end of the weekend. I feast on blackberry and coconut gelato, while Rudi opts for yellow peach and watermelon sorbet. As the sun slips down in the sky, we move homeward and are treated to a clear sky filled with a gorgeous sunset of pinks and salmons and oranges.

What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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into the stacks: the wonderful wizard of oz
posted by soe 12:58 am

Mikaiya and I are making progress on our summer readalong. Here’s my latest installment:

The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

From the jacket: “One of the true classics of American literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has stirred the imaginations of young and old alike for over four generations. Originally published in 1900, it was the first truly American fairy tale, as Baum crafted a wonderland out of such familiar items as a cornfield scarecrow, a mechanical woodman, and a humbug wizard who used old-fashioned hokum to express that universal theme, ‘There’s no place like home.’
“Follow the adventures of young Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, as their Kansas house is swept away by a cyclone and they find themselves in a strange land called Oz. Here she meets the Munchkins and joins the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion ion an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City, where lives the all-powerful Wizard of Oz.”

My take: I have no idea what kept me from this 110-year-old classic for so long. I love the movie. I’ve read Gregory Maguire’s response. Heck, I even read the second book in the Oz series as a kid. But I am pleased to report that the wait was well worth it. And this centennial edition, a hardcover with gilt edges and a bookmark ribbon featuring W. W. Denslow’s original illustrations, was a beautiful introduction to Baum’s story.

If your exposure to the Oz series comes exclusively from the Judy Garland film, you will notice several differences when you sit down with the book. First, no Miss Gulch. No running away. The shoes are silver, not ruby-hued. And all who enter the City of Emeralds must wear a pair of green spectacles to protect their eyes from the “brightness and glory” that would blind them otherwise.

But you will find the story not unfamiliar. A cyclone still sends Dorothy and Toto and their house swirling into Munchkinland. The way to the Emerald City is still along the road of yellow brick, which leads past a cornfield with a scarecrow who longs for some brains and through the forest where a Tin Woodman rusted solid while pining for a heart and where a Cowardly Lion quakes in terror that his fellow animals might realize he’s all roar and no bite. And the way back to Kansas and Aunt Em, for, according to the great and terrible wizard ruler, in Oz, “everyone must pay for everything he gets,” still lies with the destruction of the Wicked Witch of the West.

An enduring classic I’m delighted to have finally encountered in its original format.

Pages: 267

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