Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Malarkey

First things first . . . late as always, but at least I remembered (because several of you mentioned it) that it's Banned Books Week. A few banned/challenged books I've read and enjoyed:

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
1984 - George Orwell
Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
A Separate Peace - John Knowles
The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger

A few of those books I actually foisted on my kids because the poor things have always read so fast that I often had to hand them classics to keep both from going stir crazy. Imagine that.

Weekend Bookishness:

Not good, I'm afraid. I finished three books. Of those three books, I thought one was . . . well, worth banning. Hahaha. Okay, seriously, it had a lot of really graphic sex and it was just gross. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I'm passing it on to a blogger friend for review, since the author sent it to me and I thought she at least deserved her money's worth.

Completed book #2 was An Inconvenient Truth for a New Generation by Al Gore -- the kids' version, in other words. I thought it would be a little more palatable than the real book and I enjoyed it immensely.

Book #3 . . . sigh. It's not bad and I suppose I'll review it, eventually, but it was much like Chameleon Butterfly Dragonfly in a sort of "flaky, New Age" way. Lots of good advice, plenty of chatter that I thought was just a bit too far out there, for me. In this case, the inner critters morph into the "inner Genie" in Awakening the Genie Within by Bettye Johnson. Her religious beliefs clashed rather violently with mine and I kept thinking something was fishy about the spiritual teacher she kept referring to. When I finished reading, I flipped back to log the book's copyright date. Her inspirational teacher's name, it turns out, is a "registered trademark". That's a new one. And, I guess my Fishy Radar is calibrated just fine.

Which brings me to my thought of the day . . . I've obviously been jumping a little too far from my comfort zone, so I'm going to focus on cleansing my mental palate. In order to do so, I'm going to read more books that I know will not offend me or irritate me in a "yuck" or "too flaky" way. Which means more by Bethany House, my new favorite publisher. Fortunately, I have several titles on hand (in fact, I'm reading one -- Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser). Wahoo for that!

I fell behind on other reading because of the three quick reads I shoved to the head of the queue, this weekend, but I'm also still enjoying Bedlam South. I'm hung up in the middle of Occasional Therapy, though. There's a point I can't get past . . . the reflection on past accomplishments. Uh, what have I accomplished besides child rearing? I can't think of a thing. Not one. It's hard to move on when you're being instructed to reflect on what you've accomplished and you come up totally blank.

And, I'm thinking (again) about returning to numerical ratings because I'm not sure the way I'm currently doing things gives blog readers all of the information they desire. Does it? What do you think? You're my blog readers, after all.

Totally off-the-wall: Bob and Fred and other critters -- We had a big, hairy banana spider living on our porch, for a while. Kiddo named him Bob. After about two weeks, Bob moved away from the porch. "Where's Bob?" we all wondered . . . and then we saw him near the garden hose and decided that was a good thing; Bob would undoubtedly be happier in the jungle. After all, we kept hacking down his anchor lines in order to step off the porch without running into his web.

Bob has moved around quite a bit, but he sticks fairly close to the house, beneath our oak trees. Two days ago, we walked out and another big spider (not quite as large or hairy, but definitely big enough) has moved onto the porch. Kiddo named him Fred. If you hate spiders, you don't want to visit our house, right now. We check to see where they've set up their webs before stepping off the porch, then everyone says, "Morning, Bob. Hey, Fred."

I didn't say we're normal.

But, wait! This is even better. Some of you know I occasionally have dreams that show up in the headlines, the next day, right? Okay, so last night I dreamed about a gigantic alligator that had to be wrestled, twice, although I can't remember exactly what kind of problem he was causing (probably eating the hurricane food . . . who knows) and the "twice" bit seemed doubly bizarre. I woke up, this morning thinking, "What the heck was that about?" Usually, dreams are a reflection of the subconscious and I can figure out the source, but an alligator? Nope, not something I've seen or thought about even briefly in recent days.

Tonight's paper revealed the truth behind Bookfool's latest psychic dream. The headline: "Gargantuan gators get grabbed up," with a photo of two large alligators and the four hunters who snuffed out their toothful lives. Friday, it says, marked the opening of "the season". I guess that's 'gator hunting season they're referring to. Or, maybe it's hunting season in general? I don't know; I'd rather hunt with my camera.

Speaking of which . . . The kiddo had to take photos with a pinhole camera (made from a can), this weekend, as an assignment for his photography class. My friend Mike, who owns a camera shop, suggested a few good places to shoot black & white photos on Highway 61 South. So, we headed out that way. Kiddo ignored Mike's advice on length of exposure and his didn't turn out well, but I got this really fun self-portrait:

Do you see me?

Okay, enough malarkey for one day. Next up will be my review of The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman.

Wait, one more thing for people in the U.S.! Think about the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy . . . Don't Panic. Seriously. I learned this in business school . . . Buy low, sell high. Don't pull out your life savings. Put money into the bank, if you can. Ride it out and we'll all be okay. It's panic that caused The Depression. Surely we're too wise for a repeat. I hope so.

I really have to go, now. My cat needs me. You may now return to your regularly scheduled reading. And, have fun, while you're at it!

Bookfool in Still Life with Volkswagen


  1. Anonymous8:04 PM

    I love the picture!

  2. Anonymous8:13 PM

    You've accomplished one very fun readable blog - can you count that?

    I have had a ton of hits this week on my post review of A Separate Peace. (speaking of banned books...)

    G'night Bob, Hey Fred.

  3. Bermudaonion,

    Why, thank you. :)


    Hmm, I think not. For one thing, the blog is causing severe butt spread. It's probably something I need to do away with.

    Oh, that's interesting! People are looking up banned books and reading about them, then. Cool! It's been eons since I read A Separate Peace, but I still remember bits and pieces. It's one that was assigned to my sister when I was in junior high. I snitched it off her shelf (and then put it back). I was always doing that.

    Bob says, "Send bugs!" Fred waved one of those legs. Yeeuck.

  4. Wow! Not sure where to start. One-I really like Bethany House too. I went to Lifeway tonight and bought at least one book that was theirs. Two-I am not fond of numerical reviews but sometimes they are needed. Like when a book is not great but not all bad either. I really like how you do your reviews now. Three-I agree with you on the money thing. Four-Way cool/wierd on the gator thing.
    Five-Why don't you join some of tour organizations I belong to like FIRST Wild. :)

  5. Brittanie,

    Boy, I must have written a lot, huh? LOL

    I am crazy about Bethany House. This weekend, I was cleaning my den (which is really a storage room, at the moment) and happened across a book I'd forgotten about. So exciting! I think I've got at least 4 Bethany House books to finish, plus the Gary Chapman from another publisher (won from your blog). What did you buy?

    That's a good thought. I might use numbers just when I'm not sure I'm describing how I feel well enough. Great idea!

    Good to hear! I think Wall Street is acting noisy and fussy but a lot of us know better than to panic. We've been through drops in the market, before. We can do it, again. 2001 didn't kill us.

    You should hear my 9/11 vision. It was a whopper.

    Oh, that might be cool. I need to unburden myself of some ARCs but when I've lightened the load, I'll ask you about First Wild. Thanks for mentioning it!

  6. I see you! That's such a great picture...I really like it! It looks like a calendar picture...speaking of, you should make and sell a Bookfool's Photos calendar ;) I'd buy one!

    I most certainly will not be visiting your house anytime soon! I hate spiders with a passion. They're really my only pet peeve when it comes to bugs. Roaches don't even bother me as much as spiders.

    Psychic dreams again, eh? I've had one in my life and it left me dumb founded all day. That's pretty cool that you get those more frequently, though it's gotta be a little creepy, lol. Gator hunting season? really??

    And I'd definitely vote for the number rating system again...I liked that! Couldn't agree with you more about just having to read inside your comfort zone sometimes...that's what I've been doing too lately. Happy reading!

  7. How do you read so many books at one time! I would definitely become even more confused than I already am in life if I were trying to keep up with multiple books at the same time!

    Giant hairy spiders...shudder...

  8. What a great picture! You really are amazing.

    Why in the world would you want to read books that make you go 'yuck'? I mean, branching out is a good thing but there are limits...

    And you're absolutely right. Hang on. We're going to get through this just fine if congress doesn't screw us up.

    And, fyi - did you know the Treasury Department made up the 700 billion dollar figure? It's not related to anything. And they aren't even sure it will help.


  9. Very cute self-portrait. I'm also a sucker for Volkswagens...I have a calender of them this year.

  10. Holy cow! I'm usually a lurker, but I just have to say: Why are you discounting child rearing as an accomplishment? Even if the ONLY thing you'd ever done with your life (which it clearly is not) were raising good, respectful children, that would be a MAJOR accomplishment. You should be proud of the wonderful job you've done raising your kids, as is evident from your posting about them here. The world needs more concerned, active parents who can successfully raise children! (The children ARE our future, you know.)

    And you should also be proud that you bring smiles to so many of us in the Book Blogosphere through this here blog o' yours!

  11. I agree, cool picture. Don't do away with the blog! We will miss you! I'll send you more pocket coffee!

  12. You wrote, "I didn't say we're normal." Oh, but Bookfool, that's exactly what I like best about you and your family, your not-normal-ness. So much more interesting that way.

    About your accomplishments: not only have you "accomplished one very fun readable blog" but you also regularly "accomplish" a bunch of wonderful photography. (That's two.) You "accomplished" an amazing feat, IMHO, of bringing to life some amazing poppets who haven't been around enough lately (I wish I could still read the adventures of). And you "accomplish" actual chuckles from me -- and probably lots of other folks who read your blog -- on a very regular basis.

    And now I want to hear your 9/11 vision that was a whopper. Do tell.

    Will you be doing NaNoWriMo this year? I am now the ML (municipal liaison) for my region! Read all about it:

  13. Chris,

    Thanks! I've thought maybe I need to do something with my photographs for Etsy. Hmmm, calendars. Great idea!

    Oh, you should have seen the spider in the kitchen, last night! He was bigger than Fred -- just a garden spider. Sadly, he is deceased. I don't allow them to hang out indoors. You should have seen me chasing him around the dining room table!

    Yeah, another crazy dream. I'm so used to them that I'm pretty matter-of-fact, I guess. Apparently gators are usually protected, but they're not at the moment. Not sure why, but the two that were caught were 11' and 12' long. Whoa. Talk about a good reason not to go wading in the creek, around here.

    You like numbers, eh? Well, I might add them with a disclaimer --like, "This is merely my opinion, but if I had to rate it . . " That might work. I wrestle with whether or not to use numbers way too much.

    Oh, good, I'm glad I'm not the only reader who has decided to retreat into my comfort zone. :)


    Actually, I don't know how *not* to read several books at once. I'm kind of an ADD reader. I get tired of one thing, set it aside and read a little of another, set it aside, etc. When I get close to the end of a particular book, I'll often focus till I finish that book; but, it's a rare book that totally captures me to the point that I'm not willing to read anything else till I finish.

    Yeah, hairy. And big. Might be a sign we need to hire someone to hack down the jungle (or get off our butts and do it -- yard maintenance is a huge job, here).

  14. CJ,

    Thank you muchly.

    I usually try not to limit myself too much, although there are a few things I never read (gory horror, true crime and erotica, for example). In this case, the book is a YA and I had this stupid thought that I should just grab any YA book offered to me because I'd love to be asked to review more of them. But, man. Not my thing. That won't happen, again!

    I don't know what to say about congress. They're not necessarily good at managing our tax money, but I also think that it's important not to panic and to realize that we must manage our money carefully, as individuals, in order to stay safe. I figured the $700 million was just a round number. It's never going to be exact.


    Thank you. I think Volkswagens bugs are just the cutest (it's red, btw -- currently my background photo, so I may put the colored version in my sidebar when I have a minute) but I didn't care for owning a VW. Ours, a Jetta, was really cute but it leaked. We had a young'un, so we used diapers to soak up the wet spot in the carpet after every rain storm. Har. The good ole days.

  15. Lexi,

    Well, I'm not actually done yet on the child-rearing, so don't give me too much credit. LOL I guess I am just so far from what I intended to do (I planned to stay home for a few years, attend school in the evening, and eventually work part-time till my kids were older -- but we moved away from cheap higher education and that really screwed things up) that it's hard for me to see that alone as a major accomplishment. Everyone else has worked, by this point! I'm still at home -- argh! But, thank you for unlurking to chew me out. I probably need it. It's true that children are our future. And, I've done okay, so far, with mine -- the youngest is giving me fits, but I'm trying. :)

    And, thank you for saying I entertain you -- if I've made someone smile, I've done at least 25% of my job, for the day. The rest has to do with kid stuff and . . . ugh, housework. I think I've failed Housework 101. LOL


    I'm not planning to do away with the blog, but I do think I need to cut back a bit -- right now I've got a kitchen timer ticking at me, so I don't stay on too long. Oh, um, did you say more pocket coffee? Droooool. That stuff is sinful.

  16. Bonnie,

    Thanks. I'm glad the fact that we're bizarre keeps you entertained. LOL We really do talk to the spiders!

    Well, again . . thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you. The poppets -- honestly? I keep forgetting about them. I've been so overwhelmed, this year, by the whole death and estate mess that I just haven't found the time or energy to pose them. The blog is still there; I just made it invisible until there's something to post. I'll eventually bring the poppets back. Thanks for reminding me. I have got to get my act together.

    The timer says 2 minutes. Ack, hurrying! The 9/11 vision is weird . . . We were planning to go to England and Scotland with a departure date of September 22, 2001. From the *moment* my husband booked the trip, I had an uneasy feeling. Then, I started having waking visions -- not dreams, but flashes where I would briefly see a large plane flying over green, green grass and hear the word "Lockerbie", each time I thought about our trip. The closer our departure date came, the more frequent and vivid those visions became. I didn't tell anyone because it made no sense to me.

    Finally, on Sunday the 9th, I couldn't hold it in any longer and I told my husband about my visions. I said I didn't know what it meant -- whether we weren't supposed to go, something was going to go wrong, or what. He knows about visions of the past and trusts me implicity, but he was perplexed, too. Of course, on Sept. 11, as I was watching the news, I understood the meaning. It wasn't about us at all. I couldn't visualize our trip because it wasn't going to occur (when we rescheduled, I never had any trouble with uncomfortable feelings and could imagine the two of us in England and Scotland, no problem -- again, from the day he made the reservation). What that vision was trying to tell me was that something big involving terrorists and planes was about to happen -- that's all. Lockerbie was a terrorist attack involving a plane. That one still creeps me out.

    I don't know if I'll be doing Nano. My husband is trying to talk me into tagging along on a business trip, at my own expense. I'm trying to decide -- I kind of hate being on my own while he works, but it's a place I'd like to go. I think. :)

  17. Anonymous3:35 PM

    Do you at least feel better yet? No longer at death's door, I hope.

    The only reason I read more than one book at a time is that it's too big to cart around or I don't really like either.

    Catcher in the Rye, yuck. I waited too long to read that one. Hated it.

    Bob and Fred? And not say, Barb and Fred? With many little Fredlings to come?

    Of course you can't think of anything you've accomplished. You automatically discount it. "Oh, if I did it, it must be nothing." Women. Why do we do that?

  18. Carrie's back! Carrie's back!

    Oh, lady, I missed your wit and your quirky way of viewing life. You're so wise.

    Except, I actually think Catcher in the Rye is cool. But, it's okay if we differ on that.

    No, not at death's door. But, if I do housework, I feel awful. Maybe I've become allergic to housework.

    You're a more focused reader than moi. I'm really all over the place. Usually, I have at least one non-fiction read and 2-4 fictions going, at any given time.

    Well, kiddo named the spiders. Who knows? They could be Barb and Fredrika. Or Bob and Francine. But, they're not related. One is HUGE with a yellow body and long legs with furry kneecaps. Yurgh. The other is big, but dramatically smaller than Bob/Barb and gray. In fact, it might be a black widow -- I haven't gotten a good look, but I think they can be gray. Just need to check for a red spot. If it is, Fred/Francine/Fredrika is a goner.

    Really, you're just reinforcing the fact that sometimes we are our own worse enemies. I know why I don't feel accomplished -- because I haven't come anywhere close to my goals. Hopefully, I've still got a year or two on planet earth to work on that.

  19. Lady you are just too too funny! I love reading your blog. It just cracks me up. You're so sick but you pop out these whopper posts. I just love it. Really graphic sex scenes - I totally agree. Are these really necessary? Do people actually like reading them? I normally just skip them.I never think they enhance the book but detract from the readability. Spiders - yuck. You can keep them. Alligator hunting? Really? Visions are so disturbing. I don't get visions but thoughts with no pictures. It's really creepy when it happens because I never know which thoughts are going to come true or not. When they do, it just takes my breath away and I think - could I have prevented that if I would have just listened to that little voice? Oh well. Money - having worked in the financial industry, you would be surprised just how many people still don't get it. I got an email this week about giving those billions of dollars to the US people versus companies. It was pretty eye opening and I'd love to see that big check in my mailbox. Hope you feel better soon. I really think this time I'm over it. Man, it takes a long time.

  20. Bree,

    Thank you! I probably shouldn't write those whopper posts since sleep seems to be the only thing that's really helping me get better.

    I know there are people who enjoy graphic sex scenes because I used to hang out with a group of romance writers/readers, but I skim. Very seldom do they serve any purpose (forwarding the plot).

    I have those sixth-sense thoughts, too. Like when you're driving along, getting ready to turn on a certain road and you have a compelling urge to go straight, instead. My husband and I were headed home from the bank after getting a car loan (in two separate cars), one time, and I thought, "Go straight, don't turn." So, I went straight, but he turned to take the back route. I didn't have time to call and warn him. Sure enough, there was a wreck at the top of the hill and he ended up stuck for about 10-15 minutes while I glided on home. It pays to listen to the inner voice!

    I got that same email! A friend forwarded it to me and I had to chuckle at the thought of everyone in the country getting a couple hundred thousand dollars. Honestly? It makes perfect sense to me. Most people would spend the money. Voila -- economic infusion!

    This is the first day I've awakened without a sore neck, so I'm hopeful that I'm finally getting over this illness. I hope you're back to 100% soon, if not already. :)

  21. Another fun photo. You look a little short, though. ;)

    As for number ratings, I think you should just do whatever feels right for you. And I think we can tell whether you liked a book or not, you always do a good job of explaining how you felt about it.

    Accomplishments are something I feel like I'm lacking as well. Childrearing is a big one though, you shouldn't belittle it!

  22. Nat,

    LOL, thanks! Yes, I'm quite tiny. Remember The Littles? They were my best friends.

    That's a great answer, thanks. If I'm doing a decent job of describing how I felt, I suppose numbers aren't necessary, although I may use them on occasion. Haven't decided. So far, I'm taking the do-nothing option and just continuing with what I've done recently.

    Oh, heavens, I don't think you can say you lack accomplishments! You've worked in several different countries, haven't you? I've hardly even worked, since I married -- although having a traveling husband and kids is rather close to single parenthood in the responsibility category.

  23. That's the thing, I've lived in a few places but I've only worked retail in Canada and taught English in Japan. It has it's good moments but I don't really love teaching. I don't really have the skills to do anything else though. Plus I've been here off and on for about 8 years now and I still can't speak the language. There are so many more successful foreigners here. See, when I think about it, I really feel I haven't accomplished much of anything. :(

  24. Nat,

    I guess it's easier for people to look at someone else's life and say, "Wow, she's done a lot," but we don't see it, ourselves. Because, that still sounds pretty terrific to me, but maybe because you followed your dream and have spent time in other countries. I've just followed my husband's dream.

    I know what you mean, though. Being in a strange land can put a kink in your ability to reach your goals. Just FYI, I don't speak the language here, either. Seriously! People still say, "You're not FROM here, are you?" 22 years and counting.


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