Thursday, December 27, 2007

How is it that time goes so much faster when on vacation? The day is gone before you know it. May be in part because we sleep in a bit later and I read with Sophie a little longer in the morning. :-)

Called the pain management doctor today to see if I could start physical therapy again and he was not happy to hear that I had even been to the gym and did a few things with my arms. I guess my brain was as numb as my neck as I don't remember him telling me I had to be careful as I could hurt myself without realizing it. Well, now I know as I am hurting again. The numbness has worn off and I am scheduled for another set of cervical facet injections next Wednesday. Now that I know how darn awful they feel (combination of pain and pressure) I am even more nervous about them.

So today when Steve went to the gym to work out a bit, I went along and just walked on the track for a mile. Even that tired me out! I hate this - I have great days and do too much and then have bad days. So I'm sitting with a heating pad again. It can take several times with the injections before long term pain relief so I just need to suck it up and deal with it.

I am listening to The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks on my MP3 player as I walk. I have been listening to it for quite awhile as I haven't been doing much of that lately. The book is one you ponder about after just a few minutes of listening to it as the idea of someone always watching you and a foundation trying to eliminate anyone who thinks for themselves sounds a bit too real these days. The ones they are really scared of are the people who have a gene that allows them to travel through time. For generations the Travelers have been eliminated whenever found. I think teenage guys would love this book because of all the fighting, especially the Harlequins, with their swords. They have been trainedfor generations to protect the Travelers, who have ushered in changes in history. The Travelers is book one in the Fourth Realm Trilogy. Dark River, book two is out, but I haven't downloaded it yet. I am sure I will as I am thoroughly loving book one. Some days the idea of living "off the grid" - where no one can find you through a trail of paperwork - sounds pretty good. Especially when the mailbox is full of junk mail.

I was feeling lonesome for the kids on Christmas Eve so we went to see the second National Treasure movie to keep my mind occupied. I liked it better than the first one as Jon Voigt has a bigger part in the movie and his ex-wife is one feisty anthropology professor played by Helen Mirren. Clearly she loved this part and said she did most of her own stunts. Clues hidden national monuments and the president's desk results in more than a bit of a history lesson but in an enjoyable manner. Just seeing Mount Rushmore in the movie made me smile as I remember when we got to the park, it was raining and the clouds had settled in around the faces. We walked all the way out to the closest viewing area and couldn't see anything. We hung around for quite awhile, but gave up and walked back and got ready to leave. The dog had to pee so while I was walking Coco the breeze picked up and blew the clouds away, one face at a time. It was incredible. Took my breath away. And we would have missed it if it weren't for a tiny dog's tiny bladder! :-)

My morning reading has been The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt. A superb junior high age book. English teachers will love this one as it makes Shakespeare sound like something rambunctious, adventurous young teenage guys could get into, with all the violence and cussing! Because Holling isn't Jewish or Catholic, he is stuck in the classroom with Mrs. Baker while all the other kids are off to their lessons. This is where Shakespeare comes in - Holling is expected to read and understand it. His knowledge of Shakespeare results in him playing Ariel (in yellow tights with white feather on the butt - much to his dismay) in The Tempest on stage. He was so good at the part that his picture, flying through the air in a jump, ends up on the front page of the local paper - him in tights! Not a good thing for a teenage guy. The book is set during the Vietnam War era and Mrs. Baker's husband is missing in action, Holling's sister wants to be a flower child, and Holling would just like his father to pay attention to him other than to make sure he doesn't hurt the family's architecture business by offending anyone who might have an influence on if his father's company getting the contract for a new building. No vulgar language, no sex scenes to worry about - a perfect book for classroom reading. This one is going to win some kind of award - or at least it should. :-)

All for today.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Good heavens - 10 days since my last post. How fast this Holiday Season is going! Last weekend Steve and I went to see a Christmas concert in our very lovely little Opera House downtown. Two local girls who have made it good on Broadway - one of them plays the lead in Legally Blonde and the other one is the dance team captain and dances in A Chorus Line. I thoroughly enjoyed it as they sang holiday songs, and a few Broadway tuns from their shows, with a local jazz band. I think Steve did well with tolerating it because he isn't into Holiday music. We drove by the wonderful downtown Christmas lights, including the very large tree in front of Court House, which someone had run into earlier that day. How they ran into it is beyond me as to where it is, but they had it fixed.

Yesterday we made it until half-time at the Cincinnati Bengal's game. We got there pretty early as Steve wasn't sure where to park. Of course we found the parking lot ($25!!) quickly and had to either sit or stand in the cold and wind and wait for the game to start. I had tights, wool pants, two sweaters, my winter jacket and a scarf wrapped around my head under my hood and I was still freezing. Every time I'd get the freezing cold seat warmed up I had to stand up to let someone by. I had a little tunnel view but it didn't do me much good as the tall guy in front of me stood up most of the game. Maybe his buns were as cold as mine! Steve took pity on me at half-time and we left. Listened to the rest of the game in the snug warm car with the seat-warmers turned on. The Bengals won. :-) I drank most of a pot of coffee as well as took a hot bath and a shower last night to warm up. It might not have been so bad if the wind hadn't been blowing close to 35 mph. My hood was acting like a wind tunnel at times. Let's just say I like the Texans stadium in Houston much better. Even with their warmer weather they have a roof they can close.

Haven't been doing much reading - more watching Christmas movies, but I did read Christopher Paul Curtis's Elijah of Buxton. If this doesn't win the Coretta Scott King Award I will be surprised. And, I suspect it is getting a close look at for the Newbery. Curtis just gets better with each book. Set in a settlement for runaway slaves across the border from Detroit, Buxton is home to 11-year-old Elijah - the first free born child in the settlement. He is a "fragile" boy as his mother calls him, but he shows his true courage when he has to leave the safety of the settlement in pursuit of the corrupt preacher who has taken all of a family friend's money to purchase his family. What Elijah sees in the slavers' barn in his search for the culprit brutally washes away his innocence but he he returns to Buxton as a hero, with a tiny new resident in his arms. Absolutely love this book. I laughed and cried - the sure sign of a Curtis book. The use of vernacular language may make this difficult for some young readers, but the story and Elijah will delight them so thoroughly they will gladly join Elijah in his adventures, both funny and terrifying.

All for today. It is Christmas Eve and the sun is out, though it is very cold out. No snow, but that's fine with me. I love being in our own home, content and warm and listening to Steve chuckle as he is watching one if his favorite shows on his laptop. We are off to Christmas dinner with friends' - my contribution is double chocolate brownies - of course! :-)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Another week have gone and it is only 10 days until Christmas. That is hard to believe! I was at the Fayette Mall today and it was pretty crazy, but not as bad as I expected. I was so excited - I found a watch repair place that was able to replace the battery on my watch without me having to send it in. I also had the pleasure of sitting next to, in the food court, a lady from Scott county who told me her Homemakers' group, the Buffalo Club, is responsible for the gorgeous painted quilt blocks on sides of barns in the area. The ladies paint them free of charge, other than materials. They also do lots of other volunteer projects. I need to find this group in Fayette County.

I stopped by Tates Creek HS on my way to the mall to drop of the two playaway audiobooks I had borrowed and to donate some graphic novels and other YA titles. I love this library. I was only there for about 20 minutes but during the whole time there were teens coming up to check out books and there were others on the computers. I am going to be doing a day long booktalking workshop at the HS in June - how fun!!

I can actually move my neck to the right without hearing awful noises and gasping in pain. The muscles in my neck, arm, and upper back are still sore, but the sharp pain is gone. The cervical facet block yesterday at the pain management clinic worked!! It was quite uncomfortable, if not down right painful, to have the injection needles stuck in my neck and I could feel the pressure as the stuff was going in, but I woke up this morning with less pain and more movement in my neck than I have had since May, so a miserable few hours was well worth it. The pain relief could last for only a few days, or for a couple of months, but however long it lasts I am a happy camper. I go back in January 10th for biofeedback to try to learn how to manage the muscle spasms.

Stopped at Urban Active Fitness and bought Steve and I an early Christmas present - a membership. They used to be part of Gold's Gym but went independent. What a gym! It is huge, but what I am interested in is the pool. I was given a "prescription" of water aerobics 3x a week and they have a nice heated pool so I guess I start tomorrow. I did water aerobics with Mary when she was pregnant and enjoyed it so we shall see. Steve doesn't know it yet, but he is going to go to spinning classes. :-)

My recent Christmas reading has been Ann M. Martin's On Christmas Eve. What a delightful feel good book about about an 8-year-old who is determined to meet Santa on Christmas Eve and give him a present. She has a snow globe with a spring scene for him to enjoy in the North Pole. Tess asks Santa for a gift he cannot give her - a cure for her best friend Sarah's father, but even Santa cannot cure his cancer. But, he can help to make sure Christmas stays alive for Sarah and her mother. The moment when Tess meets Santa is so precious as is her realization that the animals truly can speak during this magical night of the year, including her beloved dog. This is a one of those books that is going to be classic, in part because it is set in the 1950s when life was much simpler for our children, but also because it is a beautiful but gentle read aloud for the Holidays. This is keeper for both the home bookshelf and the library shelf.

All for today. I have all kinds of ideas what I want to do while I am able to move around a bit. Maybe I can convince Steve to drive through the Horse Park tonight so we can see the lights. We are supposed to get snow/freezing rain during the weekend so now would be a good evening to do it.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Another weekend has come to an end and I still haven't put my Fall courses to bed. I have a student who is sick and I am waiting on her final assignment. Already thinking about the changes I have to make to the documents for Spring semester courses. When I was a school librarian I loved the Holiday Break as I was truly on vacation when school was out. I could curl up and read, bake with the kids and we'd play cards and Scrabble for hours. I never worried about going back to work. I always was given a much wanted bestseller that I curled up with Christmas afternoon. Now I look at semester breaks as a time to try to catch up on work. I think I need a vacation with no laptop, email, or phones!!

We were supposed to drive up to Georgetown and go to a radio show style play of It's a Wonderful Life. You know I have to be feeling really rotten not to want to go out to dinner and to the play. Steve also has an awful head cold and I don't think anyone would have been very happy to be sitting next to him. So we watched old b/w movies while I sat with the heating pad on my neck. I can't believe I am actually saying I am looking forward to having needles stuck in my neck and arms tomorrow afternoon, but I am. At least maybe the neurologist will find something. This testing has to be done before I go back to the pain management doctor on Thursday when he is going to do some type of shot that should block the pain in my neck. If it works there may be light at the end of this 6 month long tunnel of pain. I really like the new pain management doctor - he has the most wonderful British accent. And, he lived in New Zealand and knows exactly where Mic was hiking. He was telling me what a beautiful country New Zealand is. Still don't have the heart to visit where Mic died.

We would have tons of snow if it were a bit colder. Lots of rain for days here. We need it, but I am tired of the gray days. Kinda of matches me mood lately. But, I have been watching Christmas movies while putting together receipts for the end of the year Flex Spending Account. I am on my second Dolly Parton Christmas movie. Steve is watching football in the living room so I am curled up on the bed. Thank goodness for laptops!

Not exactly a Christmas title, but I loved Neil Gaiman's M is for Magic, a collection of his short stories that have been published in other places and pull together for a teen audience. He has such a way with creepy! My favorite one is about the boy that has been raised by ghosts and finds himself entering the human world to try and buy a headstone for a witch. Gaiman plays with well known nursery rhymes and turns them into a detective short story about finding out who really killed Humpty Dumpty. I found myself laughing out loud and/or shuddering all while reading the same story. The writing quality varies greatly amongst the stories but they are all a delicious read. A great Christmas gift for the younger teen who loves ghost and horror stories.

I listened to part of Gaiman's interview on B&N and he is a very interesting guy. I had to chuckle as he talked about teachers telling him not to read comics as they would rot his mind, but he was also the kid who won the English award and has read every book in the school library. I wish all kids would just listen to their own reading hearts and read what they want. The more comfortable with books kids get the more likely they to be reading everything in sight as they get older. Tell them the books they love are trash reading or junk is an awful thing to do, but teachers and some parents do just that.

I know my Christmas romances are junk reading, but so what? I enjoy them. I am wallowing in Janet Dailey's Mistletoe and Molly and read almost all of it last night as I couldn't sleep because of my neck. They are escape reading that helps me keep my sanity with the rest of the things that are going on. Why would we deny kids or teens this same kind of stress relief?

Monday, December 03, 2007

I am seeing light at the end of tunnel!! The semester is almost over. I think I am as excited as my students this time. This has been the semester from Hades with all the health problems. The last of the assignments are due by midnight tomorrow and then I can finish up grading and start putting Fall semester to bed. I have had a wonderful group of students - it is just trying to keep up with everything along with doctor's appointments, etc.

I gave up on the pain management doctor who I initially was supposed to see. I made the appointment in early November and it was mid- January. Then his receptionist calls and says he will be presenting at a conference the day of my appointment and backed it up to the end of January. My wonderful physical therapist suggested another pain management doctor, and after getting the mandatory referral from my regular GP, I finally get in to see him Wednesday morning. I haven't been this excited to have a doctor's appointment scheduled in my life!! The anti-inflammatory meds are giving me some relief but I have forgotten what it is like to not hurt.

I turned the big 51 on Saturday! Steve treated me to blueberry pancakes in bed for breakfast - even blueberry syrup. I am a big blueberry nut in memory of my mom who picked wild blueberries with abandoned delight. She was so good at finding the patches of big ones that she was selling them to the local grocery stores. Well, those that were not going into her yummy pies. I love blueberry anything!! I even have the blueberry pattern dishes from L.L. Bean, and a blueberry wreath and picture on the kitchen wall. And, I absolutely love the book - Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. The pictures of her sitting in the patch eating as many berries as go into her can reminds me of myself as a little one. I ate more than I picked - still do if I get the chance. I never did encounter a bear in the same patch as she does, but this Caldecott picture book from way back is a gotta have for both home and library use. I read it to kindergartners- 2nd graders in Alaska as they knew all about sharing berry patches with bears!!
My mom also had this friend, Aili, who was my dad's best friend's aunt, who would go picking berries with us when I was little. Oh she was hilarious - she sang so loud we knew no bear would come anywhere near us. I can close my eyes and see her with her hair in a braid wrapped around her head and in gaudy pedal pushers!!

We also went downtown to the Christmas Parade. BRRRR!!! It was freezing out and standing in one place was awful - the bottom of my feet were so cold I couldn't feel my little toes. The parade ended and there was over a 1/2 hour of speakers, carols, etc. until the tree lighting. We almost made it, but had to give up. We caught a few of the fireworks from the car as we headed home. Next year I want to just go down for the tree lighting and fireworks, if I can get Steve to agree. He went because it was part of my birthday present. He also bought us tickets to drive through the Christmas lights display at the Horse Park and to the Christmas music at the opera house closer to Christmas. He knows what a Christmas nut I am. I am listening to either Christmas music or a Christmas book in the car right now. I love this time of year. People are nicer to each other and it all about finding the gift for loved ones that you know they will like. And, it could snow for a few minutes on Christmas day and then be done with it!

Speaking of Christmas, I read There's Something About Christmas by Debbie Macomber recently. It isn't a book to write home about, but I liked it because of the fruitcake theme. A novice reporter was interviewing three Washington State women who were in a national woman's magazine final contests for a fruitcake recipe. I know most people don't like fruitcake, but I love it. I had the joy of going to pick out my own fruitcake at Collins Street Bakery in Corsicana, TX when we lived near Dallas. Their fruitcakes are to die for, but the calories will kill a Holiday diet. I was just on their web site, drooling: My mom used to make these little fruitcakes and send them to us in Alaska. They weren't the greatest but it was because Mom had made them that they were eaten with a cup a coffee and a smile. My mom smoked like a chimney so when the care package came the whole box smelled for cigarette smoke instead of the good things inside. My dad always sent me red string licorice as I loved it as a kid and still do. And my mom made fruitcake, delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and Finnish cinnamon rolls I cannot replicate, no how. Must have been that darn wood stove!!

Anyway, back to the book. It is a romance between the young reporter and the small plane pilot who takes the scared-of-flying passenger to her interview sights. She had given up on celebrating Christmas when her mom died, but this guy and a lost dog she adopts bring Christmas back into her life. Yes, I agree - There's Something About Christmas. The author's note suggests the reader try the fruitcake recipes in the book, and I may well try the chocolate flavored one!! She also noted that she writes an annual Christmas romance so I guess I will always have at least one holiday romance to read. I do read other than children's and YA titles once in awhile, especially during the Holidays. I'd like to say this one has teen appeal, but only to the die-hard romance fan, or Holiday freak like me.

All for today. Steve should be home soon and I still haven't gotten the books to send to ECU for the Holiday party wrapped. We always give books to our secret pals and then donate them to the local homeless shelter. I can't drive over to the department party so I will have to send the books to my pal. This being "grounded" from the drive over to campus is not any fun at all!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yuck!! What an awful day. It has rained basically all day - think of the snow that would be on the ground if it were a bit colder. I went outside for a few minutes to see if the ties on a Christmas bow I found were long enough to put around our dog statue's neck and decided it could wait until the weather changed!

Thank goodness it was just very cold, not raining, on Saturday when we went to the races at Churchill Downs in Louisville, where the Derby is held in the summer. We were waiting for a buddy of Steve's to give us the tickets to get into his family gathering on what is called Millionaire's Row, which is basically a banquet room full of tables like at a big author dinner at ALA. Nothing fancy about it, nor about Churchill Downs really. But, the room was four stories up and you didn't have to go outside to see the races if you didn't want to. We actually were right down next to the track for the first couple races and it was really cool to hear the hoof beats so close. I made the mistake of using the restroom on that level - it wasn't heated! Let's just say my visit was as short as possible. I was really ready to be inside. We lost more than we won betting, but it was fun.

We had a quiet Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us, since both the granddaughters had pink eye and Monica had a head cold. My resistance is so low right now that, although we miss them something terrible, I am glad they didn't come down. We all would have been miserable. Thursday wasn't one of my good days so Steve ended up making most of the dinner. I had a leftover turkey sandwich for lunch today - that's my favorite part, with cranberry sauce on it too. :-)

I finally got the last of the Christmas decorations up inside. Now we just need to wait for the weather to clear up so Steve can put the grapevine deer out on the lawn. I like them better than the white ones as they look a bit more realistic, but then again - how realistic is a deer covered in white lights? Next project is to get the grandkids gifts wrapped and sent out. I did not attempt Black Friday sales shopping even though some of the prices were fantastic. We went to the eye doctor's instead. I can't believe how expensive our glasses were, even with our insurance. But then again, I didn't exactly pick cheapo frames and the no line bifocals are expensive - yes, I am too vain to wear ones where you can see the line.

My book for today is Boy Toy by Barry Lyga. I think the best adjective for this book is disturbing. I felt myself squirming and cringing as I read scenes between 12-year-old Josh and his history teacher. The poor kid honestly believed that he had seduced her while she was interviewing him for a fictitious research project, at her apartment after school. Most of the book is written from Josh's seventeen-year-old perspective, as he tries to relate to Heather, the very girl he tried to have sex with in a closet when they were 12, what had caused him to act like that 5 years ago. Sadly, his perspective, initially, isn't much more mature in relation to what happened to him than it had been when he refused to testify against the teacher in court. It took a final encounter with his molester for Josh to accept he was not at fault. This is one of those books I wish all teens would read, but I am sure it is going to be controversial.

That's it for today.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday afternoon is here and still no call from the pain clinic. This lack of promptness is getting to be a pain and I am not looking forward to calling the appointment's person at the other doctor's office and being told to be patient. Yes, I am a patient, but patient I am not!! By Monday I will be good and cranky about it when I call.

Made a quick run to WalMart to get salad makings for dinner. Steve is still doing great on the NutriSystem diet and I am still gaining and losing the same pound and a 1/2 but we have the food so may as well go for it until it is gone but man the minestrone soup I had for lunch was awful!! Wandered through the Christmas aisles but nothing piqued my fancy. Meijer has better stuff. Need to go to Garden Ridge and Michael's next time.

Pretty proud of myself - two final exams written and ready to go. I didn't want them haunting me during the Thanksgiving Break. I am going to curl up and watch old movies with Steve. We both love them, though I go more for the romance and Christmas movies and he goes for the military ones. We both love the humorous ones. I want to watch the Nick and Norah Christmas one again. Very funny and how can you not love Asta the dog?

For those of you looking for a cute present for your kid's teacher or for yourself, take a look at the delightful Mrs. Spitzer's Garden by Edith Pattou. The illustrations by Tricia Tusa are adorable - who knew how express flowers could be? It is a feast for the eyes and the comparison to students in her elementary classroom to the garden she tends is wonderful. The tidbit on the back book jacket flap states that Pattou wrote the book as a gift for her daughter's kindergarten teacher. The nurturing, watchful way of a teacher is very much like that of gardener. :-) I also like that it is smaller in size than a regular picture book - fits the story line. This one I am keeping for myself. Many of you already have this in your collection, personal or library, as it was initially published in 2001 but Harcourt brought it back out in a new gift edition - that's the one I have.

The weekend is almost here and I can finish decorating the tree! :-) We are going see Trans-Siberian Orchestra tomorrow night. I can't wait - I love their Christmas CDs and DVDs. Mary saw them in Green Bay a few years ago and loved them and I was so jealous. Now they are here in Lexington.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I am exhausted! I sure don't have the stamina or strength I used to. Mary and I could go shopping all day and then still have energy to do something that evening. I spent a couple hours in Kohl's doing Christmas shopping for the grand kids and I am wiped out - and so is my charge card! Found lots of cool stuff for all four of them and even a couple things for McKinley who isn't even here yet. I am sure the fact that it was a one day only 50% off sale made the store more crowded than usual on a weekday afternoon, but it was also senior citizen day and they were meandering around the store at a leisurely pace slowing down all us type A personality moms and grammas who move as fast as we can without taking anyone out in the process.

Then I sat on hold with the doctor's office to find out that yes they had faxed the request for an appointment to the pain clinic and it might be a few more days before they contact me. How hard is it to pick up a phone and call to set up an appointment? I am not supposed to do it - I am supposed to wait until they call. Yes, I am getting a bit grumpy with doctor's office, waiting 2 hours to get in for appointments, etc.

Okay, deep breath - AHHHH!! Now to talk about another gentle book. I really love Norma Fox Mazer's writing. A search on B&N shows 127 items. I am delighted to see Out of Control still in print as I think it is one of best YA novels available about ostracism of a teen who is the victim. Valerie is accosted on the school stairs by three jocks who sexually harass her, grabbing and roughly fondling her. When she reports it, she becomes the victim. I also love When She Was Good - a very raw and difficult look at a teenage girl who has been victimized for so long her mentally unstable older sister that she does not know what to do when her sister is dead. On a much gentler side is Baby Face, which I wrote about in the blog a bit ago. Mazer has written so many other wonderful middle grade and YA novels and a few picture books too. I couldn't resist Ten Ways to Make My Sister Disappear when I realized it was by Mazer. Not only do I love the title, I love the cover art as well - it just calls to girls in 3rd-5th grade. A girl sitting with her arm around her dog , with her sister's feet floating off the page above her in a cloud. Love the smile/smirk on her face. Sprig is ten and her sister Dakota just turned twelve. "Boom!" Just like that, like something fell out of the sky and hit her on the head, she also turned bossy and know-it-all." This change in her sister's personality is difficult for Sprig as she wears her heart on her sleeve and when she is upset she cries, making Dakota tease her even more. But, Sprig has good reason to cry as they find out their father is going to be working in Afghanistan for several months and Sprig is worried he might not come home. Mazer explores the fears of a shy 10-year-0ld who loses her anchor, her father, and is dealing with a preoccupied mother and a bratty sister. I have never had a sister so I don't know how accurate the depiction of interaction between sisters is, but this book works for me. :-) And, I think the 8 -10 year olds with older sisters, and the older sisters who read it, will enjoy it as well.

I am enjoying the first Christine Feehan novella about a reclusive rock star who was terribly burned in a fire trying to rescue his children, who were already out of the house. They are now young teens and the woman who has cared for them for years will reawaken feelings in him. Remember - these are paranormal romances!! I forgot how sensual these books are. She never uses any private anatomy terms but you know exactly what she is writing about. I have to chuckle when I see teenage girls, some tweens even, walking around with romances written for adults. They can be downright steamy. I snuck the ones that were around our house growing up but most of it went over my head.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I am just now starting to come out of my funk over the MRI test results. I had an appointment with the neck specialist on Friday and he shared the results with me. I have nerve impingement at the C 1 & 2 vertebrae, which explains the vertigo symptoms as well as the throbbing headache at the base of my skull. I also have herniations between each of the vertebrae from C 3 through C 7. The weakness and numbness in my right arm has gotten worse and I no longer have a reflex in my upper right side. No fix in sight as surgery isn't an option. He is referring me to a pain management specialist and I am waiting to hear when my first appointment is. The assumption is they will do injections to help ease the pain and swelling. I was so hoping for a quick fix and felt sorry for myself most of the weekend. Had a follow up with my regular GP yesterday and she went over the results with me again in easier to understand terms. She has a beside manner! With something like this where you look normal, other than a bit tired, it is hard not to feel like a hypochondriac as you look fine to everyone else. She prescribed an anti-inflammatory that has yet to begin working, other than to make me sick to my stomach. I have been keeping Walgreen's pharmacy in business with all the different medications they have tried.

On the positive side, I decided with all that bad news I deserved a bit of holiday joy so I went to Macy's and bought myself a starter set of the Spode Christmas tree dishes I had some of years ago when the kids were little. They are gorgeous but very expensive even with the discount. But, now I have something else Christmasy to collect. :-) We do have the tree up already and I am enjoying the lights but I have yet to put any ornaments on it.

I finished the Bill Wallace holiday treat - The Dog Who Thought He Was Santa. What a great read aloud at home with your kids of all ages. The main character, Don, is eleven, but he has a little sister who is a delight so the whole elementary age spectrum would enjoy it. My favorite chapters are the ones that Frank, the family bloodhound, narrates. Such wisdom! He knows human behavior better than we do. Heck, he can smell a lie a mile away, especially when it is one of his family telling it. Set in Oklahoma in the 50s, this is a gentle family story that will become a classic for reading aloud during the holidays. You can't help but laugh when Frank discovers what Susan wants for Christmas and is mortified that such a creature could be added to their family.

My other treat to myself is to read a book that is not for children or YAs. I found a sale copy of A Christine Feehan Holiday Treasury - a collection of three novellas with a Christmas setting. I love Feehan's series about the paranormal Drake sisters and want to read the whole series when I have time. Only read two of them so far. Too many books, so little time. Have yet to delve into her vampire books but would like to explore those as well. Her books are complete escapism reading for me.

That's it for today. It is already dark outside - I hate daylight savings time. I'd rather it be lighter longer in the evening than in the morning. The weather was so dark and dreary today it never did get very light outside. I have had the tree lights on all day to brighten up the house a bit. At least we got quite a bit of rain this morning. Our new little spruce tree in the front yard is doing so well. Now if only we could keep rude people from letting their dang dogs pee on it when they walk them!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Well, we didn't make it to the basketball game last night, which is fine since they got slaughtered. It turned out to be a much better evening. After our "delicious" NutriSystem dinner we headed out to find Hobby Lobby. Not only did we find it, we left with a 9 foot tall Christmas tree. :-) Steve put it up last night as he knew I couldn't resist doing so today and would be trying to get it out of the box myself. The darn thing is in 4 parts and takes up a good portion of our living room! I want to get most of it trimmed before the granddaughters get here and Ally can help me with a few of the decorations.

I am not going to be one of the stars of NutriSystem, though perhaps Steve could be. I got excited when I lost 2 lbs, but not only have I put those back on, I added a 1/2 pound on top of it! GRRRR!!! And, I am turning into a rabbit from all of the salad I have been eating. I was craving bread so I had the Sloppy Joe for lunch as I could have it on a bun. YUCK!! I took two Tums right afterward as I knew it was going to mess with my stomach. But, I have to say the dinner entrees are really tasty in most cases. I am stopping at the store every other day to buy lettuce, radishes, mushrooms, etc. We are eating healthy but I do see the pounds sliding off, but Steve has lost close to 10 already. I am very jealous.

I finished The Bonemender's Choice last night and I sighed at the ending. Made me happy - I read so many realistic problem novels the happy endings in fantasy are a nice change. I really like Holly Bennett's writing style and noticed she also has a YA novel called Warrior's Daughter. I thought I received all of Orca's YA titles but I don't remember seeing it in on my shelves. Will have to look closer as I'd like to read it since it is loosely based on an Irish legend. I love this kind of fantasy. Well, in all honesty - I just love fantasy. If I could read just want I wanted to I'd pretty much stick with fantasy and a few historical romances here and there. But, not an option for someone who teaches children's and YA literature and does presentations on all genres of youth literature. I just started a Christmas book - no surprise! A Bill Wallace title where the boy and the family dog are the narrators. I was chuckling in the office while waiting to get in for my MRI this morning. A dog's perspective on a family can be quite amusing. Will write more about it when I finish it.

All for today. Off to the doctor's again tomorrow to find out what the results are of the cervical MRI. Just want some closure on this!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I did well with postings for a couple of days in a row. Then I got caught up in doctor visits, etc. Weakness in my right side is worse so I go in for a new cervical MRI tomorrow and right back to the neck specialist on Friday. The new pain medication he gave doesn't work worth a flip so I hope this MRI offers up some answers. At this point I'd be happy to hear surgery could fix it. I had not realized how tired a person can get when experiencing pain over long periods of time - this has been going on since late May.

A friend gave us tickets to go to a basketball game at Rupp Arena tonight, but he just called to say the game doesn't even start until 9:00. He said he totally understood if we didn't use the tickets because of that. This old lady is normally in bed reading by that time of night. But, Steve thought it might take my mind off my neck. We also could have gone to a UK hockey game last Saturday night, but they play at Midnight! That is absolutely crazy. Perhaps when I was in my 20s I would have been up for freezing my fanny at that time of night, but not now. I hate daylight savings time as it gets dark so early. It is only 5:00 and the sun is starting to set - it will be dark by 6:00. I'd rather it be dark in the morning.

Thanksgiving is coming up and I need to start thinking about recipes for fun foods since we will have Monica and family down. The two girls, Isabella and Olivia Gerasole, who wrote The Spatulatta Cookbook would probably do better with making fun stuff with our granddaughters than I could. I really do like this kids' cookbook. Spiral bound so it sits flat and has thick slick heavy stock pages so spills will easily wipe off. Up close color photographs of the two girls in the kitchen busy with their recipes add a touch of fun as they look like they are loving every moment of it.

I am winding my way to the end of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and am almost disappointed it is coming to an end, but it has been a long listen - about 15 CDs. I am afraid I just may be sounding a bit like a prissy British woman if I listen too much longer! I can see older teens being interested in this book as much of the book focuses on the main character and her twin sister when they were children and teens. The narrator also focuses on the loss of her twin in a very spooky way. The author has a way with beautiful descriptive passages that are glorious to listen to, but unlike a book, I don't stop the CD and "re-read" them as I would if I were reading the text. They just hang in the air for a bit and make me smile as I can see in detail what she describes. The narrator's love of books is so intense that it vibrates off the page and into the soul of those of us who too are book lovers. This is the perfect book to give as a Christmas gift to someone you know is always surrounded by books, especially books set in a time long past, such as Wuthering Heights. It is a perfect curl up and read after a Christmas dinner book.

On my bedside table is the third book in the Bonemender's series - The Bonemender's Choice by Holly Bennett. I was enchanted by the main character Gabrielle in the first book, The Bonemender, and was further wrapped up in her life as she falls in love with an elf and seeks him on the battle field, hoping the next man brought to her for healing is not him in The Bonemender's Oath. In the third book in the series, Gabrielle's niece and nephew are stolen by pirates and while in the pirate stronghold the girl contracts the Grey Veil, a plague like condition that produces a gray membrane that covers the throat and eventually kills. I am about 2/3s of the way through and still don't know if Gabrielle's healing powers will be able to save her or not. I love how close knit Gabrielle's family is and how they have even taken into their own one of the enemy (from the second book) after Gabrielle heals his battle injuries. He and his lady love help rescue the kids. A wonderful fantasy series to offer to JH and HS age girls. Girls who love Tamora Pierce's books would like Bennett's as well. I am hooked. When the box of Orca books came in, I reached for this one first.

All for today.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I wish I were one of those people who could work well in small chunks of time. I do fine with finishing household chores like that, but not actual work. Knowing I have to leave for a doctor's appointment shortly makes it impossible for me to concentrate on much as I need time to settle in to what I am doing - be it grading, writing a review, a booktalk, etc. So I deal with email, which takes much too much of our time these days, and little things. Lately, my whole life has been been broken up into little chunks of time with physical therapy three times a week, virtual meetings, etc. getting in the way of long blocks of time to work.

I was reading Jim Arnosky's book - Whole Days Outdoors: An Autobiographical Album and wish I could be like that. He writes and/or draws for a bit and then goes outside and does something and then goes back to it. This short autobiography is a delight to read and one to share with boys and I think many males work better with short blocks of time and different activities. I lose my train of thought and my flow if I am interrupted in the middle of something. I guess it is a good thing I work from home most of the time as I am easily distracted. When I am working I look up and it may be an hour or more later. If my body didn't insist on bathroom breaks (too often as I consume large amount of diet coke and water) I could sit and work for hours. But, I need to know I have those hours to work without having to stop for an appointment, etc. I guess we all work differently.

Speaking of boys - elementary and MS libraries have to get a copy of The Boys' Book: How to be the Best at Everything by Dominique Enright and Guy MacDonald. Guys loves to read tidbits of information and this book is perfect for the boys who can't sit still to read. There are short, one of two pages, sets of directions on everything from how to do an ollie, see through your hand, play the toilet paper roll, race stick boats, read someone's mind, juggle, etc. You name it - the directions are here. I love the Note to Readers - "The publisher and authors disclaim any liability for accidents or injuries that may occur as a result of information given in this book." Boys will be boys. I remember the story of one of my brothers breaking his shoulder blade, falling while trying to roll a barrel and then another brother doing the same thing. Perhaps to prove it could be done. I cannot believe my mother once said I was more trouble to raise than all three boys combined. She must have forgotten by then some of their childhood antics!!

I finished Stephanie Meyer's Eclipse this weekend. It was patiently waiting for me to finish review books first. Although I enjoyed it as much as the first two, Twilight and New Moon, I did get a bit tired of Bella's hysterical outbursts. She is an emotional mess, but then again I am sure I would be if I were about to be married, for eternity, to a vampire and was also, but just a little bit less, in love with the werewolf I once thought of as my best friend. I did like the dynamics between the vampires and werewolves and impatiently wait for book four. Meyer has me hooked just as she does thousands of tween and teenage girls.

That's it for today - time to jump in the car and head to the doctor's. Hope he has some good news for me.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bummer - we didn't get very many trick-or-treaters last night. Had to chuckle over the teenage guy with the bandanna over his face and in his regular street clothes with a pillow case. His buddy stood in our driveway, acting embarrassed. Mostly little pirates this year, even girl pirates. And princesses, of course. We had one large group of kids show up and one of the little guys (about 6 or 7) asked me if we were watching Blade, which we were. This is a pretty darn violent vampire killer movie with Wesley Snipes. What kind of parent allows a kid that young to watch this movie? He recognized it just from the background noise as he waited at the door for his candy! But, now we have bags and bags of candy left and it is calling to me - at least the stuff I can eat is!!

I was almost embarrassed to be watching that movie while kids were coming up to the door last night as it is so kid inappropriate, but they couldn't see the screen from the door. It is funny how I enjoy vampire movies, and the series we have had on TV, including the new one on Friday nights after Ghost Whisperer - can't think of the name of it at the moment - but a vampire detective is pretty cool and the actor isn't hard on the eyes either. :-) I am one of those people who cannot watch slasher movies or many of the other horror movies that have "real" people in them, but the supernatural ones don't bother me anywhere as much. When the stake goes in - that isn't a real person being killed. I still turn my head a lot - heck, I turn my head when Ducky is doing an autopsy on my favorite show, NCIS. I don't mind a scare now and then, but I want it on my terms! Guess this is all on my mind as I just started reading the third Meyer's book Eclipse. Bella is certainly caught between two supernaturals - a werewolf and a vampire - both of whom love her. I laughed out loud when Jacob, the werewolf, indignantly tells her, "At least I'm human!"

Not anywhere as scary, but I think I will wait a few years before I give a copy to my 4-year-old grandson Michael, is Graeme Base's (a.k.a. Rowland W. Greasebeam, B.Sc.) The Discovery of Dragons: New Research Revealed. It is a reissue of the 1996 edition with a new section on New World dragons. I love this book! Although younger kids will enjoy looking at the stunning full-page illustrations of Base's gorgeous, gross, weird dragons from Europe, Asia, the Tropics and the New World, tweens and teens will be the ones who "get" the humor of the letters written by the explorers in each region. Being Scandinavian probably added to the delight for me, but the letters from Bjorn of Bromme to his bad-tempered cousin, Olaf the Grim, are a hoot. Adding to the humorous text are wonderful "comic strips" along the bottom of the page that add depth to the tales. This is a gotta have book in elementary through high school. Today's teens are very much visual learners and we need to take that into account - purchasing as many age appropriate picture book formatted books as possible. Put this one near the graphic novel or fantasy section and the teens will be eating it up. Oh yeah - it was really cool - in Constantine, Keanu Reeve's exorcist character has a tool of some kind that contained dragon's breath.

Okay, on to other work for the day - like finding the top of my desk, which hasn't been visible for the entire month of October!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I wish there were a mute button for cats! Sophie is in one of her whiny, talkative moods, especially in the morning. Thank goodness down pillows fold over your head easily and block out the worst of it. I really didn't mind getting up at 3:30 this morning to put her out, but being woke up a second time, out of a dead sleep, to insistent, angry meowing is not cool. I staggered/fell (easy to do with a four poster bed that requires a step for me to get into) out of bed and opened both the bedroom and bathroom doors. I figured Steve had either locked her in the bathroom by mistake, or out of the bedroom. Not the case - the fool was perched on the outside window sill of the bedroom window giving me the evil eye and meowing. If I weren't still half asleep I would have laughed myself silly as Sophie is no dainty kitty - she is a full bodied CAT!! How she could keep herself on that little window ledge is beyond me - maybe that is why she looked so pissed off. Now she is is curled up sleeping by my feet - the constant meowing is only for between 3 and 8 a.m.

I did a session at NCLA on new children's books and loved Isabel and the Miracle Baby by Emily Smith Pearce. The opening scene, with Isabel pulling the baby's hair because she is so upset and jealous about the addition to the family and to her room, stinky diapers and all, is very telling of Isabel's emotional state. This 8-year-old has been through a roller coaster of emotions as her mother has just completed chemotherapy for cancer and then has a baby. Mom still hasn't gotten her entire strength back and is still wandering around in the same bathroom and slippers she did when she was sick and this disturbs Isa terribly. Isabel's mother has the cancer ladies group at her house and Isa hears things that scare her as she hands out cookies and lemonade. As many children do, she starts acting out and rebelling as a way to deal with her fears and emotions. A beautifully written upper elementary novel. A must have in a 3rd-6th collection.

Happy Halloween! I have a bright orange shirt on to celebrate the occasion. Went for a short walk in the neighborhood yesterday and many of the houses are decorated. We had a headstone in the front but it disappeared - either the wind or someone who thought it was for the taking! We have a huge bag of candy in the kitchen so I sure hope we get lots of trick-or-treaters tonight so it is gone. We went on the Nutrisystem diet on Monday. Hmmm - I have put on 1/2 a lb.!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wow! I didn't realize my last posting was so long ago - October 11th. This month has flown by with NCLA and AASL back to back. October is gone. Not surprising as I can barely see any white space on my October calendar.

NCLA was wonderful. Our department had a booth in the exhibits area and we had lots of prior, current, and future students stopping by to talk and hang out. The preconference I presented went well. I normally speak to a mix of youth librarians from public and schools, or just schools, but this was all YA youth services librarians in public libraries. The discussion we had about adding urban literature to the YA collection was the most lively. I booktalked a whole bunch of new YA novels, mostly in the urban lit, urban fantasy, graphic novel, and chick lit genres. As always Meyer's Twilight series came up as extremely popular. I have the third one, Eclipse, next to the bed but need to finish a review book before I can dive into it. We were talking, at the AASL preconference I did the week after NCLA, about what fun it would be to develop playlists of songs the characters in the books would have on their Ipods. One of the participants said Meyer was one step ahead of us - there is a list of songs or what she calls a "soundtrack" for Twilight, are on her web site:
How cool is that? I love the idea of teens creating playlists for characters in the books they read as they really need to have "bonded" with the character to do this well. Use the technology and music they love to draw them further into the book. Share the playlists on the library web site.

One of the graphic novels I highlighted in my sessions is Train + Train. Original story by Hideyuki Kurata and art by Tomomasa Takuma. This is a go!comic title and you can check out the other cool titles they have at This manga title reads from back to front, right to left so I had a couple of stop/starts as I was reading. I am still not quite comfortable with this format - after all, I am old!! But, the story held me as I really wanted, and still want, to know what occurs on the Special Train, "an advanced education system". Set on another planet, rebellious Arena is set on getting onto the Special Train and shy Reiichi just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time - near her! They are hand cuffed together and end up on the Special Train. Can't wait for the next volume! I also really like the section at the beginning of the book that explains what honorifics, such as chan, san, onii, etc. mean. For this novice manga reader, having this information really helped.

That's it for today - a gorgeous, though chilly, autumn day in Kentucky.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I am absolutely awful about getting on this blog as of late. Between doctors, physical therapists, and other appointments to figure out what is wrong with my neck and arm, as well as work commitments, there are not enough hours in the day. I cannot wait for the end of the month and NCLA and AASL to have come and gone. I always have fun presenting and attending sessions, but two conferences back to back right now is just too much for me. By the time I get back I won't need to wear a Halloween costume - I will look like an old crone!!

But, I am so excited I had to blog. IT'S A GIRL!!!
Mary just called me right after they got out of the ultrasound and told me the good news. Not until she had to give me a rough time by sadly saying, "Guess we will have to try again." I cried, "No!" in dismay and then she started laughing. So I knew she was kidding, but she had to reaffirm to me at least twice that my next grandchild is a girl!! I shrieked so loud in delight I think the guys working out on the street heard me. I know my son in law did as I could hear Scott laughing in the background too. All I wanted to do is call Mom to tell her but then I realized that she knew from conception that it was a girl - great-grammas know these things from heaven, I am sure of it. :-) We grammas on earth have to wait until the doctor tells the mommy. And to think that I had to wait for the full 9 months to find out what both of mine were. So, I can start little girl clothes shopping already. :-)

In anticipation I set aside I'm Going to Grandma's by Mary Ann Hoberman for the first time my new granddaughter comes to stay with us by herself. What a lovely book about the little girl who is excited about spending the night with her grandparents, until it is bedtime. She fears the bathwater might be too hot, but it's not. Even though she has her most favorite pair of pjs on she still feels funny and so does her bear. So her grandmother tells her about the first time she spent the night with her own grandmother and how the very quilt the little girl is laying under has a square of cloth from the very first dress her grandmother made for her when she stayed with her so many years ago. And, there would be more stories for her to tell each time she came to stay, one for each square in the quilt. I almost cried when I read this book as Mary has the quilt I made for her brother Mic when he was moving from the crib to make room for the new baby and into his own bed. He helped me pick out the squares from the leftover fabric from his clothes and from my maternity tops that I had made. I can touch each square in that quilt and a memory comes to mind and Mic does not seem so far away. As he would tell me, "Touch your heart Mom, I'm right there."

And, on that bittersweet note, I shall end this posting.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Once upon a time I had the goal of blogging at least every other day. That is a fairy tale these days with too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Spending way too much time in doctor's offices isn't helping any either. Saw my GP yesterday and she thinks the pain and numbness in my neck and right arm may be due to an artery problem. So now I wait to get in to the next specialist. The vertigo comes and go and the headache just never goes away, it just varies in intensity. So I and the pain pills wait for the next potential diagnosis. It is all happening to my right side. Mousing with my left hand is almost becoming easy!

Been busy working on the handout for a presentation on new children's books at the North Carolina Library Association Conference next month and came across a book that caused me to pause and say, "Oh my!" Run Far, Run Fast by Timothy Decker is a cross between a picture book and a graphic novel and addresses the bubonic plague but refers to it as the Pestilence. It is stunning in the sparseness of the text and the starkness of the black and white line drawings. The left side of the page has a larger illustration and the hand written text. The right side of the page looks more like a graphic novel with the illustrations adding depth to the story of a ten-year-old girl who is sent away by her mother when the Pestilence visits their home and her father gets sick. They are boarded into their home, but the mother pulled lose a board and pushed her daughter out. The girl wanders past a monastery and walked all the way to the sea but the Pestilence had made it there before her. Travelers on the road sometimes help her but it isn't until the man who narrates the tale meets her in the forest and offers to help her and her little brother that she has a future. It is a gentle but very arresting tale. I can't get it out of my mind. I find myself picking it up over and over as it is so unique. Is this a children's book? I don't think so, but what a great resource to introduce the Middle Ages and the Plague to middle school and older.

We finally got rain today. It was wonderful to see it come down for more than a few moments. It has been such a dry summer the trees have lost some of their leaves already. Our neighbors' birch trees lost most of their leaves last month. The weather has been very hot again but it is supposed to cool of into the 70s this weekend. We went down to the reenactment of the battle between the Indians and settlers at the Boonesborough settlement last weekend and it was a lot hotter than it should be for this time of the year. We wandered through the fort but left before the actual reenactment as I hate loud noises and there was going to be a lot of that. I enjoyed listening to and watching the spinner and weaver, but most of it was gift shop type places. People were walking around in time period clothes. One of the male Indians had the funniest looking leggings on - he looked like he had bumblebee legs! Made me think of the Renaissance fairs I have been to in the past and loved, but a different atmosphere. Came home smelling like wood smoke. Made me lonesome for the smell of woodsmoke rising from the sauna in the evening when I was growing up. Mom also cooked on a wood stove so the kitchen often smelled of woodsmoke. I wonder if I went to school smelling like woodsmoke and didn't know it. I close my eyes and smell her homemade bread though, not woodsmoke. Selective memory!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sorry it has been so long since I have written an entry. What a couple of weeks it has been. I drove over to Greenville last Thursday for our Library Science Program retreat on Friday and since we had meetings on both Tuesday and Wednesday I stayed in NC. Worked out well as I forced myself to spend the entire weekend and Monday in my office getting the handouts ready for the YA Lit Preconference at AASL in Reno next month. I am printing out the 27 page "booklet" as I type this. One last editing go through and it can go in to the AASL office on Monday. I am going to let it sit on my desk until Sunday to edit it as I am terrible at catching my own errors. Not a problem catching my students' errors, but own - forget it, at least if I try to edit right after I write. I try to tell my students to get someone else to edit for them if they can. We are our own worst editors.

The drive home Wednesday was a killer. I didn't get in until about 1 a.m. Thank goodness for audiobooks to keep me focused and alert while I drove. The last hour into Lexington was tough as all I could do in yawn, even after drinking Diet Coke all the way over. I finally got in to the chiropractor's for a massage and adjustment this morning. It hurt so good! The vertigo had come back while I was in Greenville and I was having balance issues again. Seems to happen when I drive for the long stretches like I did. We'll see if today's adjustment took enough pressure off the nerve so I will quit feeling like I am going to fall over when I try to bend over.

Had a great time at the ECU Pirates football game on Saturday night. Jami, one of the other LS professors, invited me and I wasn't sure what to expect as I had never been to a college football game before. It was great fun shouting "ARGGH!!" and making a hook with the pointer finger and thumb when the Pirates got a first down. So I told Steve we need to get tickets for the UK football season next year. It is a lot more fun than going to the Texans games - we had seasons tickets the first two years. I spent as much time people watching as game watching at those games. The ECU game was sold out and the stands were filled to the brim, with one whole side of the stadium taken up by student seating.

Haven't had much time to read but I did listen to two really good audiobooks. I collect Mary Higgins Clark's Christmas books so I know what her writing is like and enjoy her mysteries. No Place Like Home was no exception. Can you imagine a young girl shooting her mother by mistake while trying to protect her from an abusive stepfather and then being called Lizzie Borden because she shot him several times. The sleazeball didn't die and made it out to be that it was premeditated murder by Liza, who in reality was so traumatized she didn't speak for months. Liza was adopted by a distant relative of her mother's and was raised in California, but returned to New York to go to design school. She was a well know interior designer, the widow of a wealthy older man, and the mother to a young boy when she was courted and married again. She had promised her dying husband that she would tell no one of her past as it could hurt his son's future. So, Liza does not tell her new husband and he ends up buying her the very house she shot and killed her own mother in. And, she is getting threatening notes. It is a great car trip book as you keep listening to find out. I had a pretty good idea who the culprit was but there were a few surprising. I think older teens would enjoy it as they could relate to Liza as a child. Will need to download a few more Higgins Clark to listen to in the car.

Also listened to Ursula Hegi's Sacred Time. At first I had a difficult time getting into it as although the narrator was supposed to sound Italian, he sounded Jewish to me. But, I did find myself getting drawn into the story of a close-knit Italian family where the protagonist's mother does not fit in. Although the narration switches between Anthony, his mother, aunt, and other characters, the story revolves around the day in the kitchen when Anthony convinced his mouthy cousin that she could fly. What happened that day changed all of their lives forever and no one trusted Anthony, especially himself. Anthony punished himself more than his family did and doesn't find redemption until years later when his 80-something year old mother, who is feisty enough to be taking self defense lessons, convinces him it is time to let it go. Will it be too late for his own marriage and his relationship with his son? The story is set in the 1950s, in the Bronx, so it has a flavor all of its own. Not sure teens would be interested in this book and there are some adult sex scenes I made sure my windows were closed when I listened to them. :-/ I am pretty careful with that after sitting at a stoplight with my car windows open while listening to a Stephen King audiobook - that's when I realized how many times the f-word came up in a matter of a minute or two! For that reason there is no way I would listen to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Even though it is a YA novel and is an interesting book about two older teens who find each other while trying to avoid old flames, they can't utter a sentence without profanity in, mostly the f-word. I ignore the profanity when I read, but it is hard to ignore when listening to an audiobook.

All for today. The weekend is almost here and I am actually going to "play" this weekend instead of working 10 hour days. Steve wants to go down to a festival south of us so that should be fun.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It is hard to believe this is the 6th year anniversary of the attack on 9/11/01. Steve and I had been dating for just a short time when that happened and initially I thought he was in the World Trade Center when Mary called to tell me to turn the TV on and I saw the second plane hit. Based on the way I reacted just thinking Steve was there can only shadow how the people who lost loved ones in that disaster feel. There are no words to say how glad I am Steve is now my husband. I am blessed! Add a way cool daughter and wonderful grandkids to the mix and I am a very happy wife, mother, and grandmother.

Been working on the presentation handouts for the AASL conference in Reno and been reading graphic novels, chick lit, and urban lit. What a mix! I have Wild Ride: A Graphic Guide Adventure written by Liam O'Donnell and illustrated by Mike Deas next to me. It is an Orca title so it is set in Canada, but is a great addition to a MS collection. I love the color illustrations of the feisty female character and her determined little brother. On the way to visit their parents on a scientist expedition the siblings, another young teen, and an unscrupulous man are left to fend for themselves when the bush plane they are in goes down in a remote area. Reminiscent of Paulsen's Hatchet the group builds a shelter with saplings and branches, etc. Not only is this book an adventure it also teaches survival techniques for kids and teens who go camping or get lost in the woods. It also has an ecological message as the bad guy is interested in helping the company that wants to clear cut the area. Hand this one to the MS guy who says he doesn't read. :-)

All for tonight.

My desk in a box was delivered today. It sits in the middle of our entry way - all 200 plus pounds of it for Steve to put together. :-) I am hoping I will come back from Greenville next week to a L shaped desk set up in my office. Have to drive home Weds. afternoon after our meeting gets out as our dining room table and china cabinet will be delivered next Thursday. Then we will be pretty well set other than display shelving in the living room for our "stuff" that we have collected.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My mouth is on fire! I put together a Mexican casserole for dinner and made the mistake of using Steve's hot picante sauce in it instead of my mild sauce. Steve is loving it - not me! I don't care for spicy hot things. So, he is welcome to all of the leftovers. Guess that is good since I leave for Greenville in the morning. He can eat it to his heart's content!

Finally got caught up on email and grading after a long weekend in Branson, MO. The 9 hour drive over on Friday was kind of fun since we took the scenic route, but coming home on Monday I was so tired I kept nodding off and then waking up motion sick - happens if I close my eyes in a car. All I wanted was to crawl into my own bed and end the day! But, we did have fun in Branson. Steve hadn't been there in over 20 years so it had changed dramatically. He remembered Silver Dollar City as a place where local artisans set up and worked on their crafts so you could watch them. There were a few of those but mostly food concessions and touristy shops with the same stuff in each. He did not convince me to go on the water ride! We did go in a weird house where the floors were slanted - felt kind of like my vertigo! We saw the Presley Family show - no relation to Elvis. Four generations of the family on stage. Very musically talented family. Also saw Jim Stafford who was quite funny. His two kids were in the show and the boy was so tired he was yawning while playing the piano. Everything is Branson is very G rated - the perfect place to take your kids on vacation. Lots of Go-Kart places and put-put golf, etc. The evening shows are all G rated too. Lots of elderly there as well.

I received several Richard C. Owen Publishers author autobiographies and sat down to read them right away, diving into George Ancona: Self Portrait because I so enjoyed the short conversation I had with him years ago, as well as his books. This autobiography is so cool as many of the pictures he took of himself using a mirror. The process Ancona uses to design his books is very interesting. Great book! Also enjoyed Jim Arnosky: Whole Days Outdoors as he reminded me of a kid in a man's body - the need to be outside as much as he can. He writes or draws for short periods of time and then goes outside. I have a much deeper appreciation for his books after reading this autobiography. The Owen series of author autobiographies should be in every elementary school library. One of my favorites is an older one in the series, Lee Bennett Hopkins: The Writing Bug. I would share it with the students after reading some of his poetry. They loved the photographs - made him real to the kids.

All for today. Need to get my stuff together so I can head out of here first thing in the morning.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Taking a break from my urban lit research to blog for a bit. This research is very interesting as these books are filled with sex, drugs, and violence due to the ghetto settings. And, it is no surprise that teens are eating them up, especially black males between 16 and 25, a group we often think of as nonreaders. Urban lit makes up a large part of the African American Booksellers sales and some of these books are being self published and promoted - to the point of the author selling them out of the back of his or her car. These are young authors who know about marketing and how to sell things on the streets. Not exactly the process for getting a book published that many of us think of.

Finished reading Get More by Nia Stephens, the third title in the Boy Shopping series, which the back cover touts as an interactive novel. It reads like those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" titles. But, instead of choosing an adventure, Briona, who looks very much like Beyonce, is choosing between three boys she has met online. As a reader you can choose if she continues to date the guy or not. I picked this book up thinking it would fit into the urban lit genre but it really is chick lit. Rich teenage girl who divides her time between a fancy Manhattan apartment with her model mother and in LA with her rap video producer father. She's been in some of her father's videos and has had a few bit parts in movies, but she doesn't get the part in a teen soap opera because she doesn't know what love is. Well, not sure how many 17 year olds do, but Bree is intent on finding out and is seeking a guy who will love her for herself, not for her money, family, or fame. Chick lit used to be lily white but more and more chick lit titles have black or Hispanic protagonists. This series is a perfect example of the changes that are occurring in chick lit. Good changes! This is a Dafina Books for Young Readers, which is part of Kensington Publishing Corporation, one of the largest publishers of urban lit.

Did not get to read last night as I hoped as I was in too much pain to concentrate. Steve is so sweet - he found our copy of Casablanca and we watched that together while I curled up under an electric blanket with a heading pad behind my head. I went to the dentist yesterday morning knowing I had a filling that had to be replaced in my bottom right molar, realizing it was possible it would end up as a root canal and crown. Well, the filling the island dentist had put in was so poorly done that the inside of my tooth had continued to decay. The dentist took a digital picture of it and showed it to me - gross!! There wasn't enough tooth left to put a crown on so the dentist pulled the tooth. Even being totally numb from the Novocaine that wasn't much fun and much less fun when the Novocaine wore off. So I am back on painkillers and an antibiotic as I have one huge hole in the back of my mouth. She asked me if I wanted her to take a pic so I could see the crater - I said no thank you!! Now if it had been Mary, she would have loved it. When she was in school she would call and delightedly tell me about what she had seen in surgery. I would not make it in any medical profession - weak stomach! So next month I will go back to the oral surgeon who took out my wisdom teeth to start the process of an implant. They literally put a screw into the bone in your jaw. Oh yuck - I need to quit thinking about this. A friend reminded me today that all of these health issues started since we moved to Lexington, but I haven't been happier with where we live than I am right now so go figure! We are supposed leave to tomorrow for a couple of days in Branson, MO but I am not sure I am up for the 9 hour drive over there right now. Maybe a good night's sleep might change my mind. Last night both the cat and my "lack of tooth" woke me up.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What fun I had this afternoon! I worked with two Freshman English groups who had read Graham McNamee's Acceleration for their summer reading requirement. In both groups I had two very verbal boys who had me laughing out loud a number of times. I was delighted to see girls in both groups, who had opinions and comments about the book and the main character's actions as well as questions about secondary characters. Tates Creek High School library is so cool! They have their own little coffee cafe where hot chocolate, coffee, tea, etc. is sold for $1 each. That's where my groups met. They also have a quiet reading area set aside with a rocker and other comfortable seating. Their color scheme is shades of purple and it works great. I could have spent hours in that library and most likely will now that I know how to get there!

Then I drove to the correct mall to see if the china cabinet I like is still on sale. I tried to do that yesterday but went to the wrong mall. After walking around the Fayette Mall Dillards and unable to find the door to the mall hallway I was looking for I asked for help. The salesman was amused but very nice to me when he explained I was in the wrong mall. I couldn't do anything about it then as I need MapQuest directions to get around Lexington still and I had gotten to that mall with directions from downtown where I had picked up my personalized license plate: FNSISU - Finnish sisu! I had directions to get home, but not to Turfland Mall. So I went today and the sale wasn't still on. Guess I will wait and see if they have a Labor Day sale. We bought a dining room table from there on Saturday and I should have just bought the china cabinet as it was 30% off the sale price, just like the table was.

Have a stack of Bearport books next to me, a cool children's non-fiction publisher with titles that will be a real hit with kids in elementary school libraries. Their books are similar to Capstone books in relation to the high quality of the color photographs. I have Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts: Super Bowl XLI, which has really great action shots, in my lap. I was reading through it while watching football last night. The text is not extensive, but that is not the point of these books. They pique the interest of the young reader and/or the resistant/reluctant older reader to get involved in the book, even if it is only reading the pictures and a bit of the text. They also help readers understand the purpose of a table of contents and index. Most of the Bearport titles also include glossaries and all have a link on the Bearport website: My favorite of the titles I have read is Meish Goldfish's Gray Wolves, a title in the America's Animal Comebacks series. The photographs of the wolves are excellent and I love how the text addresses the need for wolves to wean out the weak and old. When we lived in Alaska I saw a wolf in the wild and it was so incredibly beautiful and big! At that point, back in the late 70s and early 80s, they were shooting them from small planes because they were eating dogs off of chains in people's yards. They were not endangered in Alaska but people from the Lower 48 couldn't understand that. Anyway, the bindings on these books are strong and the series cover subjects both in the curriculum and those that interest kids - sports and dinosaurs, etc.

All for today - I should say so, it is almost 7:30. Having a "flexible schedule" just means we work longer hours!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'm a happy camper - Steve came home and did something to make the wireless connection for the printer work from my laptop. I am still having problems since I caught that lovely computer virus while we were in Mexico. Sooner or later we are going to have to just purge the hard drive and reload my software, but I don't have another computer to use so I can't afford the time to leave it to be worked on at ECU.

I started doing some research on urban lit. Wow! Some of this stuff reads very close to porn. I found a few sites with excerpts and was almost blushing and I was alone in my office! Trying to find good YA level titles isn't as easy as it looks. But I am learning a lot! I found that very little of the urban lit is published by mainstream publishers. No surprise there. Not as easy to find, but worth the search. I picked up a couple of titles from series I hadn't heard of before when I was at Barnes and Noble in Greenville. Can you believe I have still to set foot in the B&N here in Lexington? Weird! But, I am a regular in the Half-Price Books.

Matter of fact, that is where I found the audiobook version of Jodi Picoult's The Tenth Circle, which is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. I was having a hard time turning off the car cause I wanted to hear more. I think part of it was because there were constant references to Alaska - the father in the book had been raised in an Inuit village and was harassed because of being white. I related to that from the two years we lived in Galena, an Athabascan Indian village on the banks of the Yukon back in the late 1970s. I was the Head Start teacher and went to training in Nome. I was the only white person there and certainly did not fit in. But, I did get a chance to try whale blubber - chewy and gross! And, an old Eskimo guy thought I was so white that he wanted to adopt me. Now I can smile about it but there were times I felt so out of place I wanted to just stay home. Then I had Mic and he was the hit of the basketball games we went to and was passed around the bleachers. I'd get him back and he'd smell like dried fish! His first winter outfit was a rabbit bunting with a fox fur collar. Still have the picture - he looked adorable!

Okay, back to The Tenth Circle, which is intended for the adult reader, but will have high teen appeal as it is about a Freshman girl who says she was raped by the boy who she was trying to get back as her boyfriend. Picoult pulls no punches about what happens at teen parties when parents aren't in attendance. But, this book is more about the aftermath of how Trixie is treated in school after she accuses Jason, a hot shot hockey player, of rape. From his point of view it was consensual and he figured she was out for revenge because he broke up with her. Trixie's father is a stay at home dad and graphic novel artist and the mother is an English professor. The title comes from her obsession with Dante's The Inferno. The perspective shifts among the people involved, including the police officer who is intent on finding out what really happened the night Trixie ended up at the hospital, as well as what happened on the bridge the night Jason's hockey career came to an end. Add the mother's affair with one of her students to the mix and you have a very intense dysfunctional family situation that the vicarious listener/reader just can't walk away from until he/she knows what "really" happened, if that is possible. I find Picoult a fascinating author as she most often writes about teens but she isn't writing for teens.

Now for dinner - pepperoni pizza with black olives and no cheese.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eighteen hours of driving and two days of meetings later I am back home. The trip to the chiropractor was much needed today as my neck and shoulders are very sore from the driving. But, no signs of the vertigo - yahoo!!

Isn't it interesting how messy a house can get when only a guy is in it? I got home at 10:00 last night to a sink full of dishes and a full laundry hamper. So, those chores got done today while I caught up on email and other "stuff". My 3 days of snail mail is still sitting on the kitchen counter. I will get to that this evening.

Sitting next to me on the desk is an advanced reading copy of Alex Flinn's Beastly, which will be out from HarperCollins in October. Flinn has delved into the Beauty and the Beast lore and made it her own with this captivating modern retelling. The beast is the self centered preppie, Kyle, who gets turned into a beast by a witch he plays a very mean prank on concerning taking her to dance at their exclusive private school. But, no one is more self centered and self serving than his TV anchorman father who is more concerned about what having a beastly son may do to his own image. So he basically imprisons Kyle in a home no where near Manhattan where he might be seen by the beautiful people. Kyle is left with the housekeeper and a blind college student who is to be his tutor. In his boredom, and with a basically unlimited credit line, Kyle creates a beautiful rose garden in the tiny plot of ground behind the house and creates a beautiful environment for - you guessed it - his Beauty. But, she would not have been his type before he became beastly. Kyle learns the true meaning of beautiful - oh yes, this knowledge comes with their time together as he matures into the man he will become. An absolutely delightful urban retelling of a story so mature in theme that every time I think of Disney and those d--n dancing teacups I could scream! This is a coming of age story, not one for our toddlers. And, Flinn has given it back to us as a modern coming of age tale, beastly and beautiful, all at the same time. A YA novel for every collection.

All for today.

Friday, August 17, 2007

At last - rain! It thundered like crazy last night and then the rain came. I could hear the grass and bushes sighing in relief! It was 104 degrees outside yesterday when we drove to Lake Cumberland, with the top down on Steve's car. We were both drenched in sweat, but what great fun, with Gordon Lightfoot on the stereo. For such a large lake, we didn't have much luck finding it! We saw glimpses of it in places and found a boat landing, etc. but there wasn't much to look at since the water level is so low. I was not very impressed, but I grew up in Upper Michigan, just minutes from a swimming lake and a short drive from Lake Superior. So, these man made lakes from dammed up rivers just aren't real lakes to me.

Had an early Christmas when boxes of books from Scholastic arrived. To keep myself in the mood I have Scrooged on in the background. Every time I see it (well, actually listen this time) I catch something I missed last time. I rarely ever just sit and watch a movie - I am always doing something else at the same time. Seems like such a waste of time! But, there is never a bad time to watch a Christmas movie. Steve has been teasing me there is no place in the living room for the Christmas tree. Well, it is going to go in the dining room this year, since it is empty at the moment. Haven't found the "perfect" dining room set we can afford yet.

Oh yeah - back to the boxes of books from Scholastic. I had Christmas on the mind! I grabbed one of the Bluford High series to read right away as I have been hearing good things about this series based on a group of African American teens who attend a high school in urban California. I read Payback, which is about Freshman Tyray Hobbs, a bully who loses his power when one of his victims gets the best of him with a wrestling move and knocks him to the floor of the cafeteria, with the rest of the his victims watching. Everyone is delighted, but Tyray. Intent on getting his power back, Tyray lies and steals to get the money for a gun so he can intimidate the other students, especially Darrell, the wrestler. Raised in a family where the father is a big bully himself, Tyray knows no different. Well written, no. Didactic, yes. But, worth having in a JH and HS collection - yes. This series address issues that inner city teens deal with, but the short and easy to read titles are minus the street language that causes many of the other contemporary teen titles to be an issue in some high schools. The reading level is low enough for even the most reluctant/resistant reader.

Okay - now to go through paperwork, print out meeting agendas, etc. to get myself ready for the trip to Greenville.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Up early this overcast Thursday morning. Steve was out turning the sprinklers on at 7:30, trying to give our new bushes and the grass a drink before it gets too hot. It was 102 degrees on my car thermometer yesterday. Took a long time for the car to cool down. I wish this heat would end. Our poor little spruce tree we planted out front is looking pretty pathetic. Only green on the very top these days. We may have to replace him.

Spent most of yesterday cleaning up in this office trying to find the floor so that Steve can put my desk in here, if it comes while I am in Greenville. We aren't having great luck with shipments. Our bedroom furniture took three attempts before we got it all undamaged. The driver told me the desk was damaged and I should refuse it, so I did. I want to get my office set up so I can actually do some writing and lay things out. I have piles everywhere since I have no desktop space right now.

I did find my copy of Chris Crutcher's Deadline and read it, almost in one sitting. You know from the start that Ben is going to die, but you still want to find out the ending. I know that sounds weird, but only by reading the book can you understand that comment. Ben is such a fascinating, quirky young man who approaches his impending death as the way to take the chances he would not have otherwise. He's a little guy but goes out for football and plays next to his quarterback brother Cody. He goes after the girl of his dreams and gets her. For a guy who is dying, Ben has a pretty good life. Too bad he hasn't told his family or anyone else in his personal life that he is dying. Even the therapist the doctor insists he see bails on him. He's too much for her to handle emotionally. So, Ben talks to Hey-Soos, the guy he meets in his dreams who looks a lot like what he thinks Jesus might and a bit like himself. You gotta love Hey-Soos' attitude! And he seeks out Rudy, the town drunk, who has a signed copy of Malcom X. Rudy turns out to be much more than Ben bargained for when he opens up about his past and why he stays drunk most of the time. As always, Crutcher throws a kitchen sink full of teen/family/social issues into this book, from mental illness, to racism, to child sexual abuse, but it all works because Crutcher is a master at crafting the teen issue/problem novel. One of my favorite new titles so far. It's a Greenwillow/HarperCollins title and will be out in September 2007. A gotta have in any teen collection, public or high school.

That's it for today.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Where did this day go, let alone the whole weekend. I am losing time too quickly! Fall semester begins on Monday for me. Actually on Sunday as I will drive over to Greenville the day before. One meeting after another all day Monday and 1/2 of the day on Tuesday and then I will head back home. So, I need to take advantage of this week and have a little fun between the chiropractor visits! I am learning to left hand mouse click to give my right shoulder a bit of a break as I spend so much time on the computer, which isn't helping the pinched nerve much. But, I can't say that is "fun".

Just got back from Kohl's and Old Navy. Our granddaughter Allyson starts K next week and she is excited. Decided she needed some fun clothes so I headed out shopping. Will have to show them to Grampa Steve tonight and then Gramma Ruth (me) will get them UPSed out tomorrow so Monica can bring back what doesn't fit. Wish I could have had Ally with me while I was shopping. That would have been more fun. I remember enjoying school clothes shopping when Mary and Mic were little, but Mic was always more picky than Mary.

I spent most of my weekend in the closet - literally! Now that we have bedroom furniture with drawers I had no excuse but to get things put away. You could barely get into our walk-in closet with all the stuff in there. Had to buy another over the door rack for my shoes. It seems as I get older and heavier I buy more shoes than I do clothes! I guess they are easier to fit. Mostly all summer shoes as I tend to wear boots all Fall and Winter. With as hot as it has been here I am looking forward to Autumn and the cooler temperatures.

Along with cleaning I did get a bit of reading done this weekend and finished Gail Giles' Right Behind You. The story starts out in rural Alaska, with a young boy grieving the death of his mother and boiling with anger over what he can't have because of where they live and his father's harsh treatment toward him since his mother died. They are both too deep in grief to realize something is ready to explode and it is Kip who loses it when the neighbor boy taunts him with his baseball glove. Kip is angry, way too angry to be near gasoline. He wanted to destroy the glove so he threw the gasoline on Bobby's glove, but it also got on his arm, his chest and his face. When the lighter sparked in Kip's hand it was too late to take back his anger. He had killed a 9 year old boy and no one in Alaska is every going to let him forget that, least of all Kip. Kip is now a teenager and his family has grown to add a stepmother and they have left Alaska and he has a new name, but a new name is not enough for Kyle let his inner Kip let go of his self loathing and guilt over what he did. The steps, wrong turns included, this teenager takes to come to terms with what he did and how it will impact his life forever is both raw and touching. As a mother I just wanted to reach out and hug this kid, realizing that he could be any one of our children whose anger got the best of them and a stupid response cost someone else their life. As always, Giles goes for the jugular and doesn't let go until the end. I will most definitely be booktalking this one. It is a Little Brown title and should be out next month, September 07.

Now to go open the two boxes of books that came from Scholastic. :-) I am sure I will add many more to my "gotta read" pile.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Heat advisories in effect for Lexington - in the low 100's, but I just put socks on to keep my feet warm! Turned the air down from 75 to 78. Steve is normally too warm and I often have a flannel shirt on over my t-shirt so when he is gone the temp. goes up! But, on the other hand, I can't handle the extreme heat either. So I am happy here in my little office for now. Will work on Fall courses until I go the chiropractor and get some relief from this headache. Vertigo is still trying to raise its vicious head but I am dealing with it.

Finished Patrick Jones' Chasing Tail Lights last night, which is set in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan so the cities below the bridge were as far away as another state. We spent more time in Wisconsin and Minnesota than Lower Michigan, until my older brothers went to college and moved down to Troll country - below the bridge. Jones opens the reader's eyes to what it is like growing up in a poor urban white, very dysfunctional family. Christy has two older brothers and a little sister - all with different fathers. Christy misses her trucker father who has died and often thinks of him telling her that, sometimes when you are lost, chasing the tail lights in front of you will take you were you want to go. Christy spends a lot of time on the over pass chasing tail lights in her mind, wanting to get out of town and away from her life. When her best friend Anne gets a car they do literally chase tail lights, but they never get far out of town. Christy has had a crush on the same guy for years, but she won't talk to Anne about sex. For good reason - she has been abused by her older step-brother for years. Through the use of flashbacks, Jones takes the reader back through Christy's life so we can see the hell she has lived with and how she blames herself for what is happening to her. It takes a caring teacher who also grew up in urban poverty to help Christy stand up for herself and ask for the help she needs. Jones pulls no punches when he addresses the issue of sexual abuse, but he does not include graphic descriptions of the abuse, which make the incidents even more intense in their starkness. I found myself holding my breath as I was relating to Christy's connection of smell to her step-brother's abuse. The teacher's dialog gets a bit "preachy" at times and the repetition of "chasing tail lights" can be distracting, but overall this is an excellent novel to add to a YA collection. This is a Walker title that should be out sometime this month. The short interview with Jones in the back is an interesting addition and offers the reader some insight into the author, who many of us know as one of the best YA librarians on the planet. :-)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Another week is upon us. Where has this summer gone? Just got a reminder that I will be leading a book discussion group for Graham McNamee's Acceleration later this month at Tate's Creek HS here in Lexington. Their librarians are really proactive and a fun group of ladies to work with. Can't wait to meet some of the teens. I have to put a group of discussion questions together for our group time and I can't help but wonder if any of the other readers screamed at Duncan, "This is no stereotypical horror movie, don't go down those stairs!" Don't you just hate it when you are watching a suspenseful movie, especially teen horror movies, and the character walks right into what is certain terror or death? Me - I'm a wimp. Unless I had to go in there to get a loved one, there is no way I'd go down those cellar stairs!

Really wish McNamee's Hate You, written in 2000, would come back in print. Seventeen year old Alice has been writing songs that no one, even she, can sing. Stepping in between her father and mother when he was strangling her, 10-year-old Alice took the brunt of his anger instead and has badly damaged vocal chords. Her hate for him has simmered all these years and has been written down in her songs. So how is she supposed to deal with a request to visit him now that he is dying of cancer?

Been reading the textbook I chose for my Materials for Young Adults course this semester and though I really like how easy it is to read and how accessible the lists of books are I am really disappointed in the definition of young adults as ages 11 through 18. So, a majority of the titles in the bibliographies are for tweens, not teens. It will work for the basics, but I need to rethink my textbook choice for Fall 2008. I am at the point where I would like to just write my own Materials for Older Young Adults textbook and be done with it. I guess if I had 48 hours in the day I might be able to do that. Oh well, enough complaining about that - it won't get my course online any quicker. Classes start already the 22nd! That is only 16 days away.

But, on the positive side, my darling husband left the reservations for our trip to Branson for Labor Day weekend on my computer to find this a.m. Friday through Monday. I am not even going to take my laptop or cell phone with me! :-) Need to start looking at who is playing during that time period. Steve doesn't want to go the Kentucky State Fair where all kinds of great country bands are playing including Rascal Flats. Oh well, I'll live, since I am not crazy about big crowds either.

On to working on classes until I get the sheer pleasure of a massage at 3:00 and then the chiropractor. I set my laptop on top of two reams of paper to put it up higher on my desk so that I am not looking down so much, which is killing my neck. I ordered a new L-shaped desk from Staples last night and Steve said he would get a nice big monitor for me when the desk comes in. :-) Not sure he is thinking about the fact that he is going to have to put this desk together.