sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 30, 2021


top ten bookish memories
posted by soe 1:21 am

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is bookish memories. I don’t know if these are my top ten or just the first ten that came to me, but either way…

  1. My grandmother took The Secret Garden out of the library to see if it was the sort of book I might like if she gave it to me. The only problem is that I discovered it at her house, started reading, and then took it out of the library to finish. Luckily, it was a great gift, and I have reread it a number of times.
  2. My first grade teacher gave each of us a book for Christmas that year. Mine was The Littlest Angel.
  3. When I was very small, my dad left me in the basement of the library to run upstairs and pick out some items for himself. By the time he’d returned, I’d pulled about 100 picture books from the shelves for us to take home, including some that we owned.
  4. When the new town library was ready to reopen, a children’s librarian came to our school and read the first chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to us to tempt us into getting our own cards.
  5. In high school, I got the opportunity to be part of a group interview of Beverly Donofrio about her book Riding in Cars with Boys at our local library.
  6. Nearly a decade ago, I was a Cybils Award judge. It remains one of the coolest things I’ve done, but was such hard work.
  7. My parents used to periodically drag us to Whitlock’s Book Barn, a used bookshop, when we were kids. Rudi and I would return willingly many times as young adults.
  8. Eliot Schrefer recognized me when I attended his book signing a few years ago. I loved his first y.a. book, Endangered, and had talked it up on the blog. I was carrying a knitting bag with my blog name on it and he noticed it.
  9. We attended midnight release parties for the final three Harry Potter novels. The first was at Kramerbooks, which was really less of a party and more of a line since they used to be open pretty much 24 hours a day on weekends back then. We walked home and immediately started reading. The second was at Olsen’s in Bethesda, and we read on the train home. The final was at Politics and Prose, and I dressed up as Professor McGonagall. There were hundreds of attendees, and eventually they had us line up out in the parking lot for our copies.
  10. At the very first ALA Convention that I worked, my table was in the very last aisle. It soon became very clear to those of us shunted out to this territory that this was a ridiculously low-traffic area. The guy across the aisle from me was selling the first collection of his web comic set in a public library (Unshelved), and I was trying to give away health books, but we were both working every person who came down the row. After a couple hours, we could give each other’s spiel and were sending anyone we managed to snag across the way to the other’s booth. I don’t remember if we went out after that meeting or if we just caught up at future meetings, but Bill (and his co-author, “Gene”) was often kind enough to invite me to join in the cool graphic novels group at the library conventions. (Writers and editors of health books do not travel in cool packs.)

Hey, bookish readers, would you be interested in taking part in the Virtual Advent Tour that I run? Holiday book reviews are welcome, as are other topics! Details and signups are here.

Category: books. There is/are 7 Comments.

November 29, 2021


thanksgiving weekending
posted by soe 1:42 am

It’s been a lovely weekend, and I still have about 12 hours until I head back south. While I’m hoping to cram in a few hours of sleep and some last activities, like getting lights on the bottom quarter of my parents’ tree (we had to sort out why the tree was shorting out before I kept going) and helping them bring ornament boxes downstairs, we’re definitely in the home stretch of my time off.

I’ve seen my BFF, Karen.

My dad and I played pool. (I lost every game to him or Rudi.) We laughed a lot.

I’ve knit and read and watched Christmas movies in front of the fire.

I’ve cooked with Mum.

We’ve eaten a ton of food and danced to Christmas music.

And I’ve loved being with my family.

I’ve got the Virtual Advent Tour signups up.

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November 28, 2021


virtual advent tour 2021 signups now open
posted by soe 2:12 am

Virtual Advent Tour 2021 badge -- 400 px

Welcome to signups for this year’s Virtual Advent Tour. 2021 marks my seventh year as host of this annual event.

2020 was hard. I mean really hard. And I say that having been extraordinarily lucky. But I think all of us expected this year to be easier. And it … was. But, also, it wasn’t.

And yet, here we are again, less than a month away from Christmas and just over a month until year’s end. Some of us are celebrating with loved ones we couldn’t see last year. Some of us are trying to find ways to navigate through the holidays with holes in our closest circles — and in our hearts. And some built new traditions out of necessity last year and are sticking with them.

However you observe the holidays this year, I’d love for you to share your celebrations with us as part of this year’s Virtual Advent Tour.

As you likely know, a typical Advent calendar is usually a paper-based, time-marking device designed to count down from December 1st until Christmas. Each day, you open a door to unveil a treat of some kind — a hidden scene, piece of chocolate, or some other delight. The Virtual Advent Tour is a bloggers’ take on that. In our version, each morning I’ll point you to a post at someone’s blog in which they share something about their holiday season.

Would you be willing to share a holiday post or two in December? You’d know the date(s) ahead of time (and can request a specific one if you’d like). And you don’t have to decide ahead of time what you want to write about. Your post can be as simple or as complex and in text, video, or audio format.

If you’re looking for inspiration, folks have shared new traditions they’ve adopted, old traditions they keep alive, favorite holiday music, charities, recipes, books, events, memories, and more.

If this sounds fun and you’d like to participate, please leave me a comment on this post telling me what date(s) you’d like. I’ll update this post as people claim days.

A few annual housekeeping notes:

While both the tradition of the Advent calendar and the timing skew Christian, the tour is inclusive and open to anyone who celebrates December holidays of any sort. We love reading about all kinds of celebrations and the traditions you’ve developed around them!

I tend to write my posts shortly after midnight my time (Eastern U.S.) and will schedule them to go live at 6 a.m. If your post is live when I’m writing, I’ll give a little preview and link directly to it. However, if it’s not, no worries. I’ll assume you’ll get it live at some point, and will just embed a song and a link to your blog’s homepage.

I made 2021 Virtual Advent Tour badges in 600px and 400px that you’re welcome to download and use.

If you want to share on social media, I use the hashtag #VirtualAdventTour on Twitter.

Thanks in advance for making this one of my fun December traditions!

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November 27, 2021


post-thanksgiving weekend planning
posted by soe 1:25 am

So, Thanksgiving is over, December is practically upon us, and Christmas is now less than a month away. This means this weekend will be spent on several activities:

  • Buying and putting up my parents’ Christmas trees
  • Getting lights on the big tree, at the very least
  • Posting Virtual Advent Tour signups (stop back tomorrow!)
  • Figuring out our tree trimming party and getting invites out (we’re back to thinking just one day, but eight hours instead of four and with time blocks folks can sign up for)
  • Baking with Mum
  • Listening to Christmas tunes
  • Playing pool
  • Watching Christmas movies
  • Finishing at least one of the three Christmas books I brought with me
  • Knitting in front of the fire

What’s your weekend hold? Will it be busy or full of relaxation?

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November 26, 2021


together, weight off, and a delicious repast
posted by soe 12:11 am

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful holiday. (Or happy Thursday if you don’t celebrate!)

Beauty and gratitude don’t always go hand in hand, but today they do. Here are three beautiful things from my past week:

1. I spent last Thanksgiving alone, Facetiming with my folks to watch the parade and chatting with Rudi, who was out with his mom, on the phone. I don’t think I’ll ever take spending the holiday with them in person for granted again.

2. My brother called to wish us all a happy holiday. He recently made a major life decision, and he sounded so much more relaxed this time than the last few times I’ve talked with him.

3. The table may not have literally groaned under the weight of so many delicious dishes, but I think I heard it sigh contentedly. Mum has spent the past month preparing a couple dishes a week and freezing them, and the only thing that needed to cook from scratch today was the turkey and Rudi’s carrots and peppers dish. I appreciate how much work went into making the holiday meal (it was after 11 last year when I sat down with just three dishes) and the energy required to do it all.

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

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November 25, 2021


twelve hours
posted by soe 12:59 am

Our drive north today started later than we’d planned, as it nearly always does. To be fair, 4:30 in the morning isn’t the natural departure time for either Rudi or me, so the fact that we were on the road at 9 a.m. is really impressive.

But it also meant there were more people, some of them doing crazy things with their cars. Luckily, we were really only caught in standstill traffic a couple of times, but we’ve made this drive enough times over the years that we have a solid understanding of alternative roads. It’s just that those alternatives put you onto state roads that are just slower and less direct.

We detoured through Princeton and opted to stop at a used music shop for an hour. Their Christmas cd collection was a lot lighter when we left!

In the end we pulled into my parents’ driveway nearly a dozen hours after we left the Burrow. While it was a slow trip, it wasn’t a horrible one.

But I am glad we don’t have to drive back until Monday.

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