sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

September 13, 2012

miss, neon blue, and evening at the dorchester
posted by soe 11:08 pm

I took today off (only my fourth day off this summer) and spent it out in the gorgeous late summer sunshine. I did have to run some errands, but I also stopped and ate lunch on a sunshiny porch at a local watering hole and watered the garden during full-on daylight, which allowed me to see this fine fellow hanging out on one of our pepper plants:

Latest Garden Friend

(Taken, by the way, with the camera on my new smart phone…)

Here are three other beautiful things from my past week:

1. We had a big storm over the weekend, which resulted in the weakening of a large tree limb in front of our house. It fell Sunday morning, shearing two street signs off their pole and sending them crashing to the ground. Luckily, a second street sign caught part of the branch, which saved the hood of my car from being crumpled beneath it.

2. John, Nicole, Rudi, and I head into a record shop/vintage clothing store during Adams Morgan Day. They pick up music, and I come away with a neon blue petticoat/tutu thing.

3. Susan and Phillip are very kind and invite us over Saturday evening to meet their beautiful, week-old daughter, Caroline. The rain forces us inside for most of the time, but we head upstairs to the building’s roof to allow their toddler to run off some post-dinner, pre-bed energy. Holden and I investigate the downspout and play chase, while Rudi and the proud parents take in a rainbow and what may be one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve seen in a long while.

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

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September 10, 2012

music on monday: runaway baby
posted by soe 11:59 pm

A get-up-and-dance song, Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby,” for a get-up-and-dance night:

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September 6, 2012

reward, first day photos, and cocoa
posted by soe 11:54 pm

It’s Thursday night and I feel like a million years have passed since last Thursday. It seems unfair, especially since we had a long weekend in between, but some weeks are just like that. Long.

Three beautiful things from the past week:

1. I can’t help but peek into windows as I pass them. In one kitchen, I spy a suit of armor.

2. My friend Rebs posts pictures of her son’s first day of kindergarten. Joseph is adorable with his grin and his glasses and his special first-day outfit. If we ignore the fact that I’m not old enough to have friends with school-aged children (let’s not even acknowledge those children who are in middle school), the photos help to make us feel like we’re not so far away.

3. A mug of hot chocolate in the middle of the night. With a mountain of whipped cream, of course, and a dusting of red sparkle sugar.

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

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September 5, 2012

into the stacks: liar & spy
posted by soe 3:51 am

Liar & Spy, by Rebecca Stead

From the jacket: “When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges is happy to hang out with Safer’s warm, eccentric family, because lately things haven’t been so easy at home: his dad lost his job, and his mom has started working extra shifts at the hospital. Life is no better at school, where Georges is the new target of Dallas, who is always on the lookout for other kids’ weak spots (so he knows exactly where to hit them).”

My take: Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me was my favorite book of 2010. I didn’t read her sophomore effort, First Light, but I was eager to read her new middle grade novel, Liar & Spy, and managed to pick it up from the library within weeks of its publication date.

Liar & Spy is set in modern-day Brooklyn, where Georges and his parents have just moved into a new apartment after being forced to sell their home when Georges’ father is downsized. While his mother works double shifts at the hospital to make rent (checking in via cell phone calls and Scrabble tile messages left after he’s in bed), Georges must contend with a bully in his seventh-grade class, not worrying his already stressed out dad, and making friends in his new building.

The last is courtesy of a small note he and his father discover in the laundry room on move-in day advertising a spy club. He is met by the sweets-obsessed Candy, who has been scoping him out for her older brother, Safer, a home-schooled boy his own age who has a job exercising the building dogs. Safer also has an interest in keeping an eye on fellow tenant Mr. X, who always dresses in black and who, Safer says, is often seen removing heavy suitcases from the premises.

As things heat up at school and as Safer begins taking their surveillance a step further, Georges must learn, like his namesake Seurat’s paintings, how much weight to put on the small details to balance out the big picture in order to find your own personal truth.

Stead gets middle-schoolers — their interactions, their thoughts, and their fears. Georges is a real kid in a real place facing real problems, just at that tipping point between handling them as a child and handling them as an adult. Safer and his family are quirky but welcoming, helping Georges make the adjustment to a new environment smoother — and far more interesting — than it might otherwise have been.

If I did not love Liar & Spy in the same way I adored When You Reach Me, it is not to say that this latest novel is lacking in some way. In fact, for a book that clocks in under 200 pages, it fits in an awful lot (including several surprising plot twists) in a very thorough fashion. It is just that Stead’s first novel was so perfect that even a very good follow-up might seem a little pale in comparison.

Liar & Spy would make a good read for the sort of kid who likes a little mystery in their reading, but who doesn’t require a lot of flash. Those who like Jerry Spinnelli’s work, for instance, will be quite at home here. And readers who will one day love Sarah Dessen, David Leviathan, and John Green, but who aren’t yet ready for their more mature themes, will find kindred spirits in these pages. There’s no high-tech wizardry at work in this novel … just a reliance on quality storytelling.

Pages: 180

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September 4, 2012

weekending: the labor day edition
posted by soe 1:46 am

Amanda usually wraps up her weekend with a bulleted list and invites others to do the same. This week, with three days in our weekend hopper, I accept:

  • We begin the weekend with new life. Susan and Phillip have a healthy baby girl.
  • Our typical summer Friday evening picnic at the Yards. It starts in daylight with feet in the pool, chatting, and watching the jumbotron in the distance after the baseball game begins. It carries on into darkness, through our supper (complete with macarons courtesy of Sarah) and a blue moon.
  • Sleeping in.
  • Watering the garden. A tomato and a pepper to pick. Squash to mourn. The pool looks crowded, so I carry on to elsewhere.
  • Off to Georgetown. There’s a “new” pie place. Pricey, but tasty, with cupcake-shaped pies. Blueberry lemonade pie was excellent, as was coconut cream. Skip the lemonade itself.
  • I finish my book at the waterfront park. A toddler wonders why I’m crying.
  • Drama in the sky before me. Race the thunderstorm home. I win, although I admit to being nervous when I had to cross Rock Creek.
  • Homemade tomato soup with tomatoes we picked.
  • No berries left at the farmers market. Peaches are dwindling, as is the corn. Apples abound. I buy a fiery flower and paw paws.
  • Knitting on my Olympic Affection once again. I’m back to virgin wool!
  • A last swim at the pool for the season.
  • Baseball vs. the Cubs. The Nats win their 82nd game of the season, guaranteeing them their best season since moving to D.C. and a winning year.

Zimmerman Hit-To-Be

  • More importantly, it’s Cora’s first baseball game.

Charles, Jordi, and Cora

  • Homemade popsicles after a sweaty bike ride home from the ballpark.
  • Cooking out on the stoop. We grill veggie hot dogs, corn on the cob, a pepper (for Rudi), and a peach. The perfect end to the summer season.
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