sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

September 30, 2016

stinky, mustachioed, and playlist
posted by soe 12:45 am

Three beautiful things from the first week of fall:

1. Fallen ripe ginkgo fruit smell like dog poop, but remind me of college, where the trees lined the walkway to the administrative building. I work hard not to step on the ones splattered on the road and sidewalk nearby, but the scent takes me home.

2. An otherwise average young guy on the metro has a mustache that belongs on a strongman or a Tour de France cyclist from 1905. I’m certain that it makes him absolutely happy to sport such a silly facial adornment.

3. Our final ballgame of the year goes into a rain delay that looks to last the rest of the evening. Rudi and I, however, have nowhere else to be until that call is made, and the team puts other games from drier climes on the jumbo screen in the outfield to pass the time. In between those innings, the Nationals announcer plays pop songs that relate to rain or waiting.

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

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September 23, 2016

new shows, evening color, and fall fruit
posted by soe 12:44 am

Three beautiful things from the final week of summer:

1. The fall season of tv started this week. The highlight of the new shows I’ve seen so far is Speechless, the Minnie Driver-fronted comedy about a family who regularly moves in order to find the best school and situation for their eldest child, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair and a speech board. Pilots aren’t usually the best way to judge a new series (they’re trying to introduce all their characters and do the elevator speech in 22 or 46 minutes), so I’ll probably stick with Pitch, Designated Survivor, and The Good Place for a few more episodes despite their flaws.

2. There have been some spectacular sunsets this week.

3. At the Tuesday farmers market, I buy my first apples of the season. So crisp!

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

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September 20, 2016

ten on tuesday: seasonal transition
posted by soe 3:40 am

This week marks the official turn from summer to fall, probably my favorite season of the year. To mark the occasion, Carole has asked us to focus our collective Ten on Tuesday attention on the five best things we did this summer and five things we’re looking forward to doing this fall.

The five best things I did this summer:

  1. Saw Danny.
  2. Received surprise free tickets to the Billy Joel concert.
  3. Knit a pretty shawlette — and finished some brightly colored socks.
  4. Witnessed beautiful sunsets and impressive lightning storms from Yards Park (and a rainbow from my local community pool).
  5. Kept putting one foot in front of the other. (Carole specified best, not favorite.)

The five things I’m most looking forward to this fall:

  1. Getting to visit with Karen. And my folks. But I’ve seen them more recently than her. This may be the longest we’ve had between visits since … college?
  2. Attending the National Book Festival this weekend. (The hordes of people that attend and the confined space of the convention center ratchet my anxiety up to nearly unbearable. But to spend a whole day listening to people read to me, I’ll cope with it.)
  3. Going apple-picking and going on a cider-doughnut excursion. (In the northeast, this is as easy as driving to your nearest farm stand, but down here it requires Sarah and I plan ahead.
  4. Watching Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and A Man Called Ove at the cinema.
  5. Listening to post-season baseball. While the Nationals have not yet hit their magic number for clinching the NL East, and while the Mets are mired in a three-way contention for the wildcard spots, I expect to listen to a certain number of games. I grew up listening to baseball on the radio, and am always happy to enjoy a game that way. (Even, sometimes, when I’m at the ballpark.)
  6. Honestly, I’d love to say a trip to the beach will happen this fall, but I’ve no guarantee that’ll happen, so I’m going with surer stuff.

How about you? What were some of the best things you did this summer? And what are you looking forward to this fall?

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September 19, 2016

into the stacks: april 2016
posted by soe 12:30 am

Okay, we’re three months in to this year’s reading list. Sure, we’re still five months behind, but we’re moving forward. Today, we’re covering April. In April I completed three books, two middle grade novels and one classic novella:

To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson

In this sequel to The Great Greene Heist, middle-schoolers Jackson Greene and his crew are framed for vandalism to their school. Up until this moment, life for Jackson has been pretty good since he and Gaby started going out, and many of his thoughts have been focused on how to create the perfect moment for their first kiss. Jackson’s BFF (and Gaby’s brother) Charlie, with whom things have definitely been weird recently, has declared himself head honcho after Jackson declared himself done with the life of crime at the conclusion of book 1. But when a doctored video surfaces showing their crew vandalizing the school and when blackmailers demand Jackson and his friends steal an exam in order to buy their silence, Jackson may find it’s not so easy to walk away, particularly when you’re worried your friends might not be able to pull off the job without complications.

This is a fun series. If you like heist shows or movies, like Leverage or Ocean’s Eleven, or a fan of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, I recommend you check it out.

256 pages. Personal copy.

The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

The unnamed narrator, an author, falls in love with a coastal Maine town while on a trip and books herself a summer there, staying with the popular village herbalist. The town, populated by the sort of colorful characters one expects from watching Murder, She Wrote, Doc Martin, or Northern Exposure, is quiet. The villagers’ stories also are quiet, yet filled with the tough-it-out nature a New Englander would tell you is a regional characteristic. Published in 1896, this is a novella and won’t take you long to read (although it took me a while because I kept putting it down in favor of more action-filled reads). It will linger in your head for far longer. Give it a shot if you like more recent novels comprised of connected short stories or books where nature or odd characters play a stronger role than plot. (If you enjoy the sort of books Nan reviews at Letters from a Hill Farm, I think you’ll like this one.)

158 pages. Library copy.

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

I loved Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic, so when I saw her next book had been bought by the library, I quickly reserved it. Between the two books, I can say with some confidence both that Lloyd is a fan of quirky Tennessee mountain towns, dessert, and music and that I’m willing to give anything she writes a shot.

Emma is growing up with her older brother and Grandma Blue, the proprietor of the Boneyard Cafe, and adjacent to a cemetery where Emma leads tours. Emma is waiting impatiently for Destiny Dream to manifest itself: all the women of her family have talents or magics that are foretold in a dream that comes toward puberty, and they are tracked in a family journal, which Emma’s been poring over since her mother, a gifted singer, died a few years before. In centuries of women, only three women have ripped out their tales: two sisters in the mid-1800s and her grandmother.

Emma’s dream, though, is not clear-cut. It suggests she revisit the graveyard in order to find a treasure long lost, but she’s been hearing singing in the cemetery in the middle of the night, something her great-uncle suggests might be the ghost called The Conductor. Will Emma, her BFF Cody Belle, and the new, silent boy be able to figure out Emma’s destiny before her grandmother decides it’s time for a fresh start?

240 pages. Library copy.

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September 18, 2016

solo weekending
posted by soe 11:46 pm

Rudi was away this weekend, which meant a lot of my actions had to be justified to no one but myself.

Friday night, I picked up a pizza and soda and took it over to a school field where they were showing the latest Star Wars movie. It was a lovely night, and a good start to the weekend. I also started a new book, The Wrath and the Dawn, an adaptation of One Thousand and One Nights, which I’m enjoying quite a bit.

Saturday, I slept in and was lolling around the house contemplating a trip to the library when a friend texted to say he and his family were nearby and was I maybe interested in meeting them at the park. I gathered my library books to return and headed over, getting to spend a couple hours in a playground getting caught up. They dropped me off at the library on their way home, which was fortunate, because it gave me time to grab my holds and use the bathroom before the branch closed.

Hot Chocolate and Coffee Cake at Baked and Wired's Parklet

Peckish, I wandered down to Georgetown and stopped in at my favorite D.C. bakery. I think I’ve mentioned before that Baked and Wired serves their large hot chocolates in parfait glasses, topping them with thick, homemade whipped cream and chocolate chips. Because the line for the bakery side was half a block long, I picked from the four quick breads they keep on the coffeeshop side (conveniently line-free). The slice of cardamom coffee cake was light and moist and pleasantly spiced and was the perfect accompaniment to the rich chocolate drink. I started reading one of the books from the library, Jason Reynolds’ Ghost, named last week to the long list of the National Book Award in the young people’s literature category. Friday was Parking Day in D.C., when organizations and businesses can request to take over a parking spot for the day and turn it into a temporary park. Baked and Wired had taken part and had seen the merits of leaving extra seating up through their normal weekend rush. It was a pleasant way to spend the waning daylight.

This morning, I awoke early, arriving at the farmers market as they opened. We’re getting to the tail end of the summer produce season in the region, so farmers were warning this would be their final week or so of corn on the cob and peaches. I picked up quite a few of each, as well as two more bunches of basil to supplement last week’s batch of pesto. I ate breakfast, watched some tv, did some chores, and then headed down to the garden, determined to harvest my potatoes. I spent two hours in my plot, digging up potatoes, putting in some more that had gone by, harvesting some peppers, turning and supplementing soil, and planting some seeds for lettuces and winter greens. I returned home to find Rudi had just gotten back, and we headed to the park to enjoy the last of the weekend’s light.

How was your weekend?

Weekending along with Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise.

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September 16, 2016

contagious, bullpen, and fresh
posted by soe 1:00 am

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. I leave work with just enough time to get to the stop to catch the bus home only to find that the road has been blocked off and they’re not letting anyone through. While the bus was also going to be on the wrong side of this roadblock, usually this would be cause for grumbling about a delay in getting home. But there are people in from out of town who are really excited about the fact that the Presidential motorcade is about to pass by, and their enthusiasm is catching. You get used to it when you live here, and you tend to focus only on the inconvenience to your daily life, but it is actually kind of cool that the leader of the nation is driving right past you.

Fernando Salas Warms up for the Mets

2. Rudi’s bicycle club gets tickets to the baseball game and they invite me along. Since it’s a Mets game and I’m in between volleyball seasons, I say yes. I’m glad I do when I discover that the seats are in left field, about six rows above the visiting team’s dugout. I sit and chat with Rudi’s friends for a while, but late in the game I move forward to follow what’s going on with the relief staff. That’s Fernando Salas, above, who came in to get the first two outs in the tenth. And this is Jerry Blevins heading into the game to face down his former teammate and Nationals powerhouse Daniel Murphy for the third and final out, saving the day for the Mets fans.

Jerry Blevins Heads into the Game

3. Rudi made a batch of pesto tonight with fresh basil from the farmers market. We’ll freeze most of it for the winter, but tonight we had very tasty pasta for supper.

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

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