Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oh dear - I just drove poor Steve nuts with my techno-idiocy. We spent a hour on the phone trying to figure what I did to make my laptop go wonky. Every time I tried to get "My Computer" to come up with the drives listed it locked up. But, it worked fine on campus. Just went wonky at home. Apparently I must have removed the USB Hub from the computer incorrectly - in other words I didn't power down or use the remove command from the tool bar. Boy do I learn the hard way! And poor Steve had to try to answer all my stupid questions and deal with my whining. I have the patience of gnat when my computer won't do what I want it to do when I want it to do it! He said it would be over an hour before he could settle back down to go to sleep - it is an hour later in the islands. As soon as we got off the phone I headed into the kitchen and put a few chunks of walnut cranberry oatmeal cookie batter baking in the toaster oven. I'll de-stress with sugar! That and I am watching the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center on CBS. Ooh - gotta get the Sarah McClachlan (sp?) Christmas CD. She is singing my favorite John Lennon Christmas song.

All this stress because I was trying to download the pictures I took in Key West and Kansas City. Apparently it is the flashdrive that was causing the problem so now I have to figure out how to use the cables to attach the camera to the computer - this could prove to be interesting! Perhaps another hour on the phone with Steve. Just the thought of figuring that out is causing a hot flash!

Bummer - I burned the dang cookies! I'm gonna eat them anyway!!!

I think I need to call it a night and go curl up with Mary Higgins Clark's Santa Cruise: A Holiday Mystery at Sea. :-) Just got it from the book club today. A cruise out of Miami to the Caribbean. Of course, a mystery ensues during the voyage with even a ghost sighting. I really need a light mystery right now. I am also reading Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down, which Steve had been given to read and he passed it on to me saying that he thought teens would like it. He knows that is a way to get me to read an adult novel! :-) It is a dark comedy to say the least - four unlikely companions find themselves bonding after they all appear on the roof of a London building, intent on suicide. Teens will relate to British broken hearted Jess and JJ, the American musician who is mourning his lack of fame. The two adults are a hoot as well. One of those books to offer to the older teens who like dark comedy! What a mix to be reading - a light mystery and a book on suicide attempts.

Gotta go - think my cookies are cool enough to eat, burnt edges and all.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Back home, in my favorite place - working in bed with my laptop. :-) BRRR!! 48 degrees outside this a.m. It is supposed to warm up to the 60s though so I am not complaining. Warmer than Key West was! Spent yesterday doing laundry and catching up on email and grading. Was a lazy Sunday a.m. with the newspaper. My favorite day of the week in that regard. Was so lazy I didn't even go to the grocery store like I should have. I am down to two Diet Cokes so a trip to the store today is essential! Spent the afternoon and evening grading and half watching Christmas movies on TCM. I love White Christmas. I watch it at least once a year if not more. Attending the Christmas lighting and fireworks ceremony with Steve's daughter Monica and the girls in the Plaza on Thanksgiving evening in KC got me in the spirit. Well, actually I was already in the spirit due to the lights Steve put up on the balcony in Key West. He isn't crazy about Christmas, but smiles as I indulge in my love of the Season and even left the radio on Christmas music while we were in KC. Friday night, before we left KC, we went to dinner at Steve's favorite Gate's barbecue (which I like but makes my lips burn when I eat it!) and on the way there and back he drove through areas with lots of lights. I was like a little kid. :-)

I have to write about the book I read while on vacation - Tripping to Somewhere by Kristopher Reisz. Wonderful, wonderful book about friendship, finding home, and accepting who you are. Sam and Gilly became fast friends from the moment Sam stepped in to protect Gilly from the lesbian taunting she let her "friend" pummel her with. Gilly doesn't hide her sexual preference, but she doesn't stand up for herself either. Now Sam, she stands up for herself and for Gilly, with profanity laced comebacks. Sam's home life with her mother and too friendly stepdad gives Sam a hard edge as she tries to protect herself from what she cannot control. Gilly is in love with Sam, but Sam makes it clear that their sexual relationship, to her, is a perk of their friendship. But Sam truly does care about Gilly and when she decides to find the Witches' Carnival, she knows without a doubt, even though Gilly doesn't, that Gilly will go with her. Gilly throws all caution to the wind and steals the dirty money her cop dad keeps hidden under the master bathroom sink. The girls can go far, in style, with $50,000. They do find the Witches' Carnival and Gilly falls in love with one of the women. Her infatuation takes them as far as London, with fake passports, as they try to prove to the witches that they belong with them. But only one of them can become part of the Witches' Carnival. Who needs this escape more - Sam or Gilly? I was with Sam and Gilly as they chased what most believed an urban legend - a group of witches (one being Christopher Marlowe) who can travel the world by writing their names on a piece of paper and using it as a passport. I could go on and on about this book but if I do I will give too much away for those who haven't read it yet. If you work with older teens and/or just want a fantastic read, you must read Tripping to Somewhere. Yes, it is laden with drugs, profanity, sex, rock music, but it all fits and does not distract from the "real" story - the relationship between two friends and what one is willing to sacrifice for the other. Give this fantastic "reading trip" to the teens who love Tithe and Valiant by Holly Black. Can't wait to booktalk this one. :-)

Much more fun to talk about books, but I have to try to finish up some grading before I head for campus.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Our IT person in the LSIT Department put a Macy's type parade of balloons, including the ECU Pirate, across our Dept. web page. Very cute!

I'm sitting on a heating pad as I type this - my hip is acting up again. Talk about feeling old! Guess it was all the sitting yesterday. A 4 hour drive to Ft. Lauderdale from Key West and then the plane. Midwest has large seats with foot rests, but I was so ready to get off the plane. We went for a walk this a.m. after breakfast to a nearby grocery store to get the essentials - Diet Coke and a heating pad. :-) Not sure which one more more essential by the time we got back to the room. I even resorted to drinking a bit of the bitter coffee at the breakfast buffet.

We are headed over to Steve's brother's for Thanksgiving dinner here in a bit. The best kind of dinners - ones where I don't have to cook! :-) It is still fairly warm, but both of us commented on how much fun Key West was and would like to be back down there in that gorgeous hotel room, bad weather or not. The one here at the Quarterage is nothing to write home about. But, it is very quiet compared to our hotel in KW. We had a family who decided to play hide-n-seek at 1:00 a.m., with the little girl screaming like a banshee as she was chased. Then they left and a partier moved in and woke us at about the same time for the next two nights, but with loud music and talking. We had no qualms of talking loudly as we went down for breakfast! :-)

I am enjoying my new SanDisk MP3 player - listening to Celia Rees' Pirates. Just got to the part when she arrives on the plantation in Jamaica and realizes exactly what her family does for the money they spend on fancy clothes and homes. The scene where she thinks the old woman is pile of animal bones in the road is so haunting. Saving one doesn't help any when the roadside and beach is littered with slaves who are past the point of being sugar field/mill workers. Almost looking forward to getting on a plane so I can listen for a few hours uninterrupted. :-) Already know something nasty has to happen with/to the nasty overseer.

All for today.
Written yesterday, but didn't get posted:

We just got in to Kansas City and it is warmer here than it was in Key West! We had a wonderful time in Florida, but it was jeans and jackets weather, with last night being the worst with the cold rain. Our first night was in Miami. Someone said Orlando got snow! Not typical Florida weather. Steve actually tried to wear shorts the first day but he changed into jeans too. The stores on Duval were making big bucks on hooded sweatshirts. We saw a couple of kids in the hotel heated pool, but I shuddered just to think what it would feel like to step out into the cold wind off the ocean.

We wandered around the shops and even bought a Christmas ornament or two. We stayed at the Ocean Key Resort at Zero Duval. What a wonderful place! We had a gorgeous room with the Jacuzzi from heaven. I was in it every night as I could see the TV from the tub. The package deal we had included 3 quick massages but we combined two of them into an hour massage yesterday afternoon and left the spa feeling like two noodles, but got it together in time to go out and watch the shows on Mallory Square. We never did get the great sunset show as the weather was so bad. Steve brought a set of Christmas lights and put them up on our balcony so we would know which one was ours from the Square. I took pics, but not sure yet how well they came out. The package also included breakfast in a delightful restaurant called The Tin Roof. I noshed on scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast with the most delicious berry jam and all the black tea I could drink. Any plans for dieting were left back in NC. I was none too happy to have to pass on the yummy breakfast this a.m. as we left for the 4 hour drive to Ft. Lauderdale before they even opened up. The best dinner we had was at The Hard Rock Cafe, which Steve isn't too keen on eating in. Can't you tell we haven'tt eaten yet this evening? I have food on the mind.

Friday, November 17, 2006

This is Michael, my three year old grandson, in his new Christmas truck shirt Gramma (me) gave him. I was tickling him - that's why he is making a weird face. I love being a Gramma! :-)
Spent the early evening at Starbucks where a group of us were listening to a wonderful singer who has spent time in Ireland. Her name is Jennifer - can't think of her last name right now, but what fun. There were wonderful Celtic ballads and a few of the Irish pub songs we joined in on. She has a range of music and even sang my favorite country song sung by both Keith Whitley and Allison Krause (I like Krause's version better), When You Say Nothing at All. Hated to leave, but knew I have computer stuff to do when I got home.

I am so proud of myself! I not only downloaded the digital pictures from my camera to the computer (Mary wanted the pic she took of Michael and I), but I also figured out how to download books from Audible to the SanDisk MP3 player I bought on sale, with a $5 coupon too! :-) So thrifty of me. I am going to be obnoxious about sending pics to everyone since I know how to do it now. It is so funny - I love technology, just not learning how to use it. I want to know how - by osmosis or something. I have the patience of a gnat so that doesn't help. I had a computer when DOS didn't exist yet - I had a Kaypro, the Apple II, and even one of the first IBM laptops that cost an arm and a leg back then. So I am not computer phobic, just lazy I guess.

I downloaded Pirates! by Celia Rees, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafizi, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audry Niffenger, and The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. I had already burned them to CD, but I didn't set it up right so the CD goes back to track one every time I turn the car off. GRRR. So now I have them all in one place and all I have to do is turn the player on and off and it starts where I left off. I am in heaven!! Wish I had done this a long time ago. I have my iPod for music, but hadn't gone the player route for books until now. I was amazed I was able to fit all 4 books on a 1GB player. I didn't have much left over, just a smidgen of memory, but I was so pleased with myself. I am all set for the trip now. The camera is empty and ready for me to snap pics in Key West and of the girls in Kansas City. Can't wait to see how much Kady has grown in the last month. Ally's birthday was today so I sure hope her gifts arrived - I was going to pack them in my suitcase but when Steve reminded me I had to pack for both warm and cold weather I decided sending them UPS was much wiser. Even stuck a couple of Christmas gifts in there too. Ally is 5 already.

My book for plane reading is Tripping to Somewhere by Kristopher Reisz - a Simon Pulse title. I was hoping to have it read by now, but work keeps getting in the way of my reading!

Music for the car ride between Miami and Key West is Alan Jackson's new ballads CD Like Red on a Rose. He has such a soothing voice. Allison Krause produced this CD and her gentle touch shows.

That's it for me tonight. I still need to pack. Have the iron heating up so I can get the major wrinkles out of my Dockers and jeans. Need to find my shorts for Key West too. Oh yeah - need to get my coat packed as soon as I get off the computer so I don't forget.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oh man - no Lost tonight and I missed the finale last week as I was on a plane while it was on. Steve taped it but the tape went "funky" at the very end. He said that was almost worse than not seeing it at all. I asked him to bring the tape with him anyway in case we have a VCR in our hotel room in Key West. We get a free massage with our room - boy am I looking forward to that! I love Key West - hope we have time to go through the Hemingway House again. One of the museums there has a lion drawn by Hemingway - his first book? A picture book? :-) Guess I will have to watch Bones tonight instead. I like it because it is a bit like NCSI. Mark Harmon is a lot better looking as an "old guy" than he was on St. Elsewhere, which Steve and I love to watch in reruns. I watched Jericho for a couple of weeks but it isn't holding my interest.

It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day - the leaves haven't all fallen yet. Oranges, reds, yellows, etc. I love this time of the year - cool enough to wear a sweater, but no need for a jacket yet. The forecast says it will get into the 30s at night this weekend. Maybe it will wait until I am gone on Saturday and will warm up again before I get back home.

We picked names for Secret Santa today at our faculty meeting. The cool part of this is that we are going to pick a book that we think our chosen colleague might have picked to give to the homeless shelter in Greenville. After we open the book from our secret Santa at our Christmas luncheon they will be donated to the homeless shelter. The ECU ALA Student Chapter is doing something similar. We have students all over NC and a few out of state, who will also donate books to their local homeless shelters. I love the idea of giving books to children and teens who are spending the Holidays in less than comfortable surroundings.

Who ever my secret Santa is might choose a YA fantasy novel to donate, like The Hunter's Moon by O.R. Melling. This is 2005 Amulet title that I had "misplaced" in the apartment in the islands. What a cool book! Set in Ireland, two cousins - one Irish and one American - set out on a road trip to find out if their belief in faeries just might be real. They find out just how real it is when Findabhair is kidnapped by the King of the Faeries and Gwen has to find her inner strength to bring her cousin back. Once into Faerie, Gwen realizes that maybe Findabhair doesn't want to leave - she has fallen in love with the King. Is she to be the human sacrifice that is required under the Hunter's Moon? Or, will the King fall in love with his human captive and not be willing to sacrifice her? Perhaps Gwen in her place? Such a delicious fantasy tale with a unsure of herself teenage female protagonist who discovers just how strong she really is. Now I want to find and read the second book in The Chronicles of Faerie, The Summer King. It introduces a new character and is again set in Ireland and includes Faeries, of course. :-) Offer these books to the girls who love Holly Black's Tithe.

All for today.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It is only a bit after 7 a.m. and I have already checked my email and finished my first Diet Coke for the day. My body has settled back into the comfort of my own bed and I am sleeping again! I love to travel but my body does not. Takes me days to get back in synch. By Saturday I will be feeling hunky dory and it will be time to get on a plane again headed for Florida. I am meeting Steve in Miami and we are spending a couple of days in Key West, which we both love, before flying to Kansas City for Thanksgiving. So I have to pack shorts and flip flops as well as winter clothes so we can wander through the outdoor Christmas lights displays in downtown Kansas City. We are staying near the plaza so I can get my Christmas decoration "fix". I have the battery charging for my digital camera so I can take lots of pictures. Ran to CVS yesterday to get wrapping paper for Ally's birthday gift and left with a 3 foot lighted Christmas tree too. Mary called me Sunday to say there were putting up their tree. She has certainly inherited her Mother's love of Christmas. Steve is bringing a golf bag full of my Christmas "stuff" that is still in the islands. I will be able to really decorate the condo this year. :-)

I was reading through Nancy Werlin's blog about the National Book Awards this a.m. I am so excited that her The Rules of Survival is on the list for young people's literature. Below is the full list in this category. Nancy is in good company, but I was blown away by Rules of Survival and really really really want it to win. Nancy deserves this recognition as she is one of today's best YA authors and her books just keep getting better. They are so suspenseful. And, Nancy has a wicked sense of humor - just go to her blog and check out the 4 inch killer black heels she bought for the ceremony. My ankles hurt just looking at them! The blog is a hoot!

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. One: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
Sold by Patricia McCormick
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

One of my latest reads takes me into the tween territory, rather than upper level YA like Nancy writes. I fell in love with Debi Gliori's Pure Dead Batty. I had a wonderful fantastical romp through the moldy and often creature occupied hallways and rooms of the Scottish "castle" StregaSchloss with the Strega Borgia family. This 5th book about an Italian family reminds me a bit of the Addams family in relation to the absurd humor, the talking creatures (love the lipstick wearing spiders) and the decidedly "weird" kids. Titus is the only one who tastes his mom's tainted dinner and ends up with a massive dose of testosterone and sprouts hair and muscles. Nanny McLachlan has disappeared and Dad Luciano has been charged with her murder. Mom Baci is pregnant again and under the "spell" of the dastardly lawyer whose intent is to keep Dad in prison. Pandora, the logical middle sister with the camera, develops photographs that she didn't take that prove to be leads as to what really happened to their Nanny. And baby Damp, whose magical powers are already greater than her wanna-be-a-witch Mom, is the one who literally holds the string that can bring her beloved Nanny back. You gotta love this toddler along with her accident prone familiar, a batty bat! After reading this delightful fantasy I plan on buying the other 4 titles to curl up with during the Holidays. Offer these to the tweens who love Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl and any other fantasy with a quirky edge. Or buy them for your adult friends who want a fun read in front the fire or at the beach this Holiday season.

That's it for this chilly Tuesday morning. The sun is shining and the some of the trees are still holding their glorious Fall colors. NC is beautiful in the Autumn. :-)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Oh boy- a new version of Blogger is available. But, I will wait a bit before I do that. I am still getting used to the new Yahoo email screens. So many updates, so little time! Had a discussion yesterday with a colleague about all the new technology "bells and whistles" we could incorporate into our online courses. But, technology for technology's sake, rather than adding value to the course is not my cup of tea. I am truly the "bookarian" one of my young patrons called me years ago. It has become my favorite descriptor for who I am. Not that I don't love everything else that goes on in a library, but I have a passion for books. Some of my friends have a passion for learning the newest technology related to our profession. My passion is books, in both print and audio format. I want to read or listen to the newest books for children and teens so that I can introduce them to anyone who will listen! I have a stack of articles next to me on audiobooks as I am about to write an article on children and audiobooks, which are referred to as "talking books" when doing a database search. Talking books - interesting term.

My early morning hours today were spent with Tarheel Libraries (a publication from the NC Library Association) and American Libraries. I read both from front to back. Am pondering what 4 characters I want on my NC "Drive for Libraries" license plate. :-) BKRN perhaps? Highlighted the statistic in American Libraries that listed the only age range with an increase in certified librarians is the 45 to 54 year old age group. Clear support that librarianship is a second career for many people. I love having students in my courses who have a base of life experience and years in the PreK-12 environment as teachers before they join the ranks of we subversive school librarians. :)

My late night hours last night were spent with Pete Hautman's Rash. No - I wasn't itching, but the other teens at the school Bo is kicked out of after he triggered a mass hysteria about a rash are indeed breaking out and itching. Soon everyone was covered in little red bumps and Bo became Typhoid Mary. That, along with his inability to control his temper, gets him sentenced to prison, which in this futuristic novel, includes making pizzas. People go to prison for the smallest offenses - this is how the government makes money - it sells the a felon's contract to a private company where the felon is then put to work for long hours with no pay. Slick deal for both the government and the companies involved. Bo gets sentenced to a pizza making facility in the Canadian tundra where the threat of being fed to the polar bears keeps most of the teenage guys working and eating pizza, even though they are sick of it. Bo is "promoted" to the Goldshirts and learns how to play football, which has been banned in the USSA (once the USA) for many years - too dangerous. People wear a helmet when going to a walk! Add to this craziness the Artificial Intelligence being Bork, who Bo created in school, and you have a fun read. Bork is able to get Bo out of prison, but will Bo be able to survive on the outside with no football and no fear of polar bears? :-) A funny but haunting look at a possible future I would have no desire to live in. I love Hautman's books, with Mr. Was still ranking as my favorite. Need to find a copy and reread it - such a cool historical fantasy.

Although the SLJ Summit and my time with Mary, Scott, and my grandson Michael were wonderful, I am so glad to be back home in Greenville. I sighed in relief when I walked into the condo late Wednesday night and have been sighing in contentment ever since. The weather is still wonderful and the trees are losing their colorful leaves. I love Autumn in NC! Now if Steve were here all would be right in my world. :-)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh my am I tired! I did get 7 hours of sleep last night, but it has been a hectic day. There are boxes of books in my office that I did not have time to open. And, boxes of books at home I did not have time to open, but I did get most of the two duffel bags unpacked this evening. I about killed myself hauling them up the stairs to the condo this morning so I wasn't about to unpack them until I had ended this day of work. The postal lady called me to ask if she could leave my mail in front of the door since there was too much to fit in the mail box. It is sitting at my feet, with the bills opened at least. I celebrated the end of this day by curling up in my pjs and eating strawberries while watching Lost after editing a proposal for a presentation another professor and I hope to do in the Spring on family violence and how YA novels can be used to introduce this difficult subject. First book that came to mind when Libby suggested a session on books about family violence is not a YA novel, it is a children's book, but is so intense it is unforgettable. What Jamie Saw by Coman is incredible. I used to read aloud in class the scene where the stepfather throws the baby across the room like a football and the mother reaches out catches the baby as if that is what she was put on earth to do and the gasp of my students echoed what I feel every time I read it. E.R. Frank's America is going to certainly be one of the YA books on family violence I will share. I found myself wanting to hug this teen as his pain radiated from the pages of this heartbreaking novel. But, I have too many deadlines before this presentation next semester that I need to set this thought aside and move on to writing an article on audio books!

I did read a wonderful fantasy novel on the way home yesterday, but I have no idea where I put it at the moment so it will have to wait until tomorrow to talk about. Good night!