Monday, February 26, 2007

A dreary Monday here in Greenville. Yesterday was really gray and rainy. I decided my trip to Office Depot could wait - I may decide the same thing today! I really didn't mind spending the whole day working on annual report "stuff" for ECU. There are days I wish we went for shorter is better like the business world. No such luck - I am working to fill a 3" three-ring binder of examples of what I have done professionally in the last year. I didn't even take time off, totally, to watch the Oscars. I was flipping through copies of Library Media Connection to make sure I didn't miss any reviews while I watched. My Reader Advisory columns are easy to find as they are in the table of contents, but not the reviews. Ellen Degeneres was quite funny and the actors were on their best behavior, except for Jack Nicholson - he always looks deranged to me! I was disappointed that Peter O'Toole didn't win, but that may have been because I was listening to Lawrence of Arabia on Saturday while I went through files. Now I want to rent Pan's Labyrinth after seeing clips from it. Wonderful special effects in what looks like a deliciously creepy movie from a Mexican director. A very international flavor last night with one of the most touching speeches given in Italian, with Clint Eastwood doing a bit of translation for the audience. It was worth Sophie glaring at me as she knows Mom's normal bedtime and it isn't 12:30!

While I was looking through files and boxes I came across the updated copy of A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux that I picked up from the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. Mary has my first edition and I knew I wasn't going to get it back from her. Once upon a time when I was still a stay at home mom I read romances - anything to vicariously take me away from the harsh winters in Alaska. Devereaux was one of my favorite romance authors and this time travel love story is my favorite romance of all time. I was just looking through the 95 reader reviews on B&N and their comments are similar to Mary's - they read it again every couple of years. How can you not love a story of a modern woman and a knight from the 16th century? One of my favorite scenes from the movie version with Meg Ryan is when he is learning how to brush his teeth and toothpaste is quite an oddity to him. Compared to many of the bodice-ripper romance writers, Devereaux is mild and many of her books are read and loved by teenage girls. That's when Mary borrowed my copy and I never got it back. So, when this darn annual review is turned in, my treat is to curl up with Dougless (yes, that's her name) and Nicholas and let them sweep me away to the past! :-)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I sent Monica, Steve's daughter, the picture of Allyson in her President mode and she sent me this one of her and Kady, our newest granddaughter who was born in October. I named this pic file Kady Bear as Kady looks adorable in the bear bunting. Baby clothes are so much fun to shop for. Mary lives near one of the big outlet malls and I went crazy in the baby clothing stores - they had them all. :-)

I am so excited about being closer to the girls and the grandkids. I told Steve I want a house with our bedroom downstairs and we can set up a couple of rooms upstairs for the girls and the grandkids. His response was - "So they can wake us up with the sound of them running around?" :-) That's fine with me - I just will love having them with us.
A good night's sleep and I am still traumatized over my time in the dressing room yesterday with way too many different swimsuits, all of which looked awful. JC Penney's was having a big sale so I thought I would go for it while they still had a large selection. Well, it wasn't a large enough selection for me to find one I would be willing to wear in public! I was so traumatized I had to come home and "heal" with dark chocolate and a Pierce Brosnan movie. The Thomas Crowne Affair is my favorite, but I went with what was on TV. I may have chosen unwisely as I had to put up with Salma Hayek running around in a very skimpy bikini while I was enjoying Brosnan's escapades as a diamond thief in After the Sunset. Woody Harrelson is not one of my favorite actors but he plays a charming, but bumbling, FBI agent after Brosnan. Next attempt at swimsuits, I am finding a cover-up I like first!

After the Sunset is set in the Caribbean, but not in Cuba, which, in my opinion, has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, with few people on them. Lots of Canadians and most Cubans assumed I was Canadian when I spoke English. They were very surprised when I said I was an American taking a 3-week Spanish class at the University of Havana. We won't even go into how badly I did in Cuban Spanish! So, when I see children's books with a Cuba flavor I have to pick them up. Oye, Celia!: A Song for Celia Cruz by Katie Sciurba is a vibrant book - both text and illustrations. This book is a loving tribute to the Cuban born Queen of Salsa - Celia Cruz. Edel Rodriguez, the illustrator, was born in Havana so he adds an authentic Cuba flavor to the bold illustrations. He uses an interesting technique of combining spray paint with pastels and acrylics, while using clean black ink to outline. My favorite double-page spread shows a Havana street scene, with a well kept old car as a central feature. The engines may be a mixture of old and new, but the bodies are kept authentic and you feel like you have walked into the 50s when you walk down some of the streets in Havana. While I was in Havana, many of the other people with my group were there taking dancing lessons. I went to see their show at the end of the 3 weeks and we were dancing in our seats along with the students. The music of Cuba is alive with movement and smiles. No one can be unhappy while dancing in Cuba. :-) Oye! Listen!! One Spanish word I know well!

Time to do some picking up around here so Steve can actually get into bed when he gets home. Friday was his last day at the Court in the Virgin Islands and I pick him up in Charlotte on Wednesday. I can't wait! Sophie is good company but Steve is my best friend, along with being a way cool husband, and I have missed him something terrible.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thought I would add a picture of our other granddaughter who has yet to beautify my blog. This is President Allyson, who is incredibly good at imaginative play. She saw that big desk and made herself right at home! I think she makes a better president than... Okay, I said no politics on the blog! I am getting excited about being closer to the grandchild and buying a house so they can come spend time with us. I really do love this Gramma thing! :-)
Sophie is totally miffed at me because I was awake before her this a.m. and she didn't get to wake me up and listen to tell her to go away and leave me alone! I got quite the dirty look and the tail shake. Cats are such funny creatures, but as much as they are a pain in the butt you can't help but love them. At least I can't help it. I know there are lots of supposed cat haters out there, but they just haven't found the right cat! Or, more appropriately, the right cat hasn't found them. :-)

Looks like we are in the last stretch here as we wait for all the paperwork to finalize on Steve's new job at Lexmark in Lexington, KY. When he told me we were going to over to Lexington so he could interview I had to chuckle as we had driven through that area in October on our way back from Kansas City and we talked about how gorgeous the area is with the rolling hills and horse farms. At that time of the year it was exceptionally beautiful as the trees were ablaze in Autumn colors. I commented then that I had loved the area for years as I drove through many times going north to visit family when I lived in Texas. And, now we will be hanging our hats in Lexington. Well, for me, part of the time as I am keeping my teaching position with ECU and driving back and forth for meetings. I love my job and the people I work with, as well as my students. They are well worth the several hour drive, and just think of all the books I will get to listen to during the trips!

I will be so glad to have Steve back on the Mainland. He emailed me this a.m. to say that the Virgin Island Daily News has a picture of semi truck that "rolled off" of the ferry at the dock in Red Hook. I just shook my head as nothing surprises me about what happens over there anymore. When you live there about the only thing that helps you realize you are living in the United States is the postage stamps! And even then, every package we mail from the USVI to the Mainland needs a customs form. It feels like a foreign country. Poor Steve - he has been filling customs forms out by the droves as he is sending all his stuff to NC via the mail. He sold all of our furniture, etc. that we bought down there as well as our RAV4. I am glad - it had a bit of island damage. No car is immune to being backed into, run into, scratched, etc. on that island. Parking is impossible and when you do find a spot it is the size of a postage stamp and everyone drives SUVs! The government buys them for all the upper level government employees and the legislature. Why anyone would want to drive a full size SUV on that island is beyond me - there are even a couple Hummers on the island. Next time we go to the Caribbean, as I am sure we will as we both love the islands, I want to go to Aruba, or one of the other ABC islands, but I want to go as a tourist!

Speaking of traveling - I got to do a bit of vicarious time/realm travel while reading Kate Thompson's The New Policeman. What a "way cool" book! Make this your weekend reading and block out some time as you won't want to put it down once you start. I very much relate to the theme of there not being enough time in the day and that the days are getting shorter. For J.J. and the rest of his music loving Irish family, the days literally are getting shorter. Time is somehow seeping into Tir na n'Og - the Land of Eternal Youth where the figures of Irish tales reside, such as Aengus Og - the Celtic god of love, youth and beauty. A place where time is supposed to stand still, where the sun is supposed to stay at high noon, but is no longer. No one from either side seems to be able to find the portal through which time is leaking. When J.J. promises his mother he will give her time for her birthday, he doesn't realize that he will journey to the other side of time where goats turn into drums and the music he sometimes hears in the woods is actually seeping through from Tir na n'Og. He will play with legends and help humans discover why their socks go missing from the dryer! :-) For those of you who read my blog I am sure you have picked up on my preference for fantasy, but I would recommend this title to non-fantasy readers as well, especially those who love music as the sheet music for the tunes preface each chapter. I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but loved this book for the wonderful merging of current day Ireland with the Celtic legends and myths I have loved to read since I was a child. If you go to you can actually listen to some of the music from this book. The cover shown on her web site is different than the Greenwillow U.S. cover. I think the Greenwillow cover is more attractive - it is a gorgeous dark blue, with what looks like the internal workings of a clock. For me, time is blue, not green as the other cover shows. Also check out Thompson's other titles, such as Only Human, Origins, etc. She has written several children's/YA titles.

All for now.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I think my brain is coming out of the peanut butter muck after several days of being miserable. I thought I had the nasty stomach flu that is tearing its way through North Carolina, even closing down schools. There I was curled up in quilts, sitting on a heating pad to stay warm due to the chills, while I watched the eveing news. I then heard my beloved Peter Pan is the culprit that has made me sicker than a dog. Of course I have the tainted lot starting with 2111 and the jar is 2/3s empty. Peanut butter toast had been my comfort food and it was making me sicker!

Sick or not, I have been entertained by the discussion on the listservs about the use of the word scrotum on the first page of the Newbery winner - The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. I have to admit I added a posting or two with my opinion - loud and clear. Anyway, a New York Times article suggested authors sneak in controversial terms - causing librarians in turn to decide to not purchase it for their collections. Referring to a dog being bitten by a snake on the scrotum is a reason to ban a book. Excuse me, it isn't the incident, just the use of the term scrotum. GEESH!!

I did have the opportunity to read an upcoming June 2007 HarperCollins historical novel - Billy Creekmore by Tracey Porter. Her afterward addresses the depth of her research on coal mining towns and circuses in the early 1900s, which is seamlessly intertwined with the well developed settings and characters she creates. Billy is an enduring young rascal who has a gift for storytelling. He uses it to his advantage to keep the bullies at bay at the orphanage where the boys are kept scrawny and scared. He tells them about all the ghosts he talks to as everyone knows he started talking to them at birth. Billy is bound for the glass factory when his maternal uncle shows up to claim him. Billy loves his stern aunt and his miner uncle but still misses his father who sends him post cards from all over the country. An involvement in the union has Billy running from Baldwin Felts agents after they kill his uncle and the other miners planning a strike. Coming out of the woods hungry and eager for human interaction, Billy is welcomed into the Sparks Circus family but his short time with them is interrupted by none other than his wayward father. Billy is the mature one of the two and their relationship does not come to a happy end, but the reader will applaud Billy's skill at surviving during the worst of times and smile at his delightful stories. A superb addition to upper elementary and middle school collections. Even the most reluctant male reader will be drawn in by Billy and his escapes.

All for tonight. Am going to go curl up with the latest Strega-Borgia title by Debi Gliori.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Just had to share this picture of Michael and Kegan. Michael is a bit impatient for his little brother to grow up a bit so they can play with his trains together. :-) And, I have to amend the previous birth weight I announced. I can thank my "he thinks he is so funny" son-in-law for the error. He told me 8 lbs. 11 oz. as Kegan lost an ounce when he peed! Mary has since corrected me - Kegan was 8 lbs. 12 oz. at birth. The peeing part doesn't count!

I have to chuckle as most of the pics Mary has sent me are taken on their king size bed. She has followed in my footsteps with making their bed a major living area in the house. Mine at the moment has 8 books on it (in a variation of having been read to wishing to read) along with a cat curled up in my stuffed animals and the folded playbill from the Vagina Monologues, which I saw last Friday night. I can usually relive the last week from what ends up on the other side of the bed.

I had not seen The Vagina Monologues before so I really didn't know what to expect. I would have been all wrong anyway. The various subjects covered made me laugh, cry, and even blush. And with all the edgy YA novels I read, I didn't think much could make me blush these days! At one point I was sitting there thinking - "I am watching this on a college campus in the South!" I don't remember ever reading about the comfort women who were held in prison-like conditions for the Japanese soldiers to rape and abuse during WWII. This act brought me to tears. I am glad I went to see it and will go again next year if the opportunity arises. Guess it has been done for several years at ECU with local actors, who were quite good.

One of my have-reads on the bed next to me is Liz Rettig's My Desperate Love Diary - a new 2007 Holiday House title coming out soon. It is desperately funny! Stand aside Rennison's Georgia Nicolson. You have been bested by a new clueless British teenage girl who shares her inner most thoughts and down right ridiculous actions and reactions in her laugh-out-loud funny diary. Kelly Ann is totally blinded by the hunkiness (in her not so humble opinion) of G, whose name she cannot even divulge in her diary for fear someone might read it and know who she is madly in love with. Like everyone in England doesn't already know from her actions! She is oblivious to the fact that G is the biggest slimeball in the school, taking advantage of her very obvious crush on him to the point of allowing her to buy his lunch when he is short on cash. G is quite willing to help her lose her virginity, but those who truly care about her keep inconveniently interrupting them, including her pregnant sister whose water just broke! It takes some time for Kelly Ann to lose her very distorted view of who does and doesn't deserve her attention and affection, but there is hope for her. The British slang is delightful and I found myself using a British accent in my head as I read and thought about this book. Hmmm - reminder to self - keep the British accent for internal conversations with self only!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sorry it has been a week since I blogged. Been a busy one with meetings and phone calls with Mary as she impatiently waited for their son to be born.
Steve and I now have five grandbabies! Kegan Allan was born on Thursday, February 8th and weighed 6 lbs, 11 oz. Isn't he a cutie? He looks just like his daddy, Scott. Wish I could have been there for the birth, but mother and baby are back home and doing well. Big brother Michael, who's three, doesn't understand why Kegan can't come upstairs and play with him. Mary is going to have her hands full with two little boys, but they certainly have a backyard big enough for them to play in and they live next to the elementary school, with a big playground.

Been busy cleaning today - told myself I had to get all the old Christmas catalogs thrown out. Now my hips are sore from 4 trips up and down the stairs to the dumpster. Didn't realize I had accumulated so much junk mail. But, since I was home all of 13 days in January and not that many more in December, it is not surprising.

The Grammys are on tonight and I want to watch them as the Dixie Chicks are nominated for 5 awards. I would love to see them win as many as possible after the raw deal they got from country stations who boycotted their music for disagreeing with Bush. But, I am not getting into politics in this blog!

I have never been a big manga fan, but I love Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet. It is set in modern day Tokyo, but keeps the family names, Capulet and Montague. Romeo's father is Japanese and his mother looks like a blonde bimbo. Romeo is drawn blonde, thin and handsome and is, of course, a rock idol! :-) Juliet is a Shibuya girl. Now, I had to go look that up as I had no idea what a Shibuya girl was. Basically, a teenage girl who is very into fashion and hangs out in the commercial entertainment district of Shibuya in Tokyo. Juliet's clothes are certainly ... interesting! The dialogue is straight out of Shakespeare's play and it actually works with the modern day illustrations. I think teens of all ages will love this new Abrams/Amulet graphic novel series illustrated by Sonia Leong. I can't wait to read the others. Hamlet is already available, but I don't have a copy yet. Will sure help all those Juniors to have to read Hamlet in English classes as the Manga Shakespeare titles also include a short plot summary at the end.

All for now, I need to make sure I have all the books I need for my presentation tomorrow at home and not in the office.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Since Steve can't be here to hear me screaming when the Bears got a touch down on the first kickoff of the SuperBowl - first time in history that has happened - I thought I'd put him on the blog. This pic is the background on my laptop! :-) Doesn't he look cute? This was at my favorite Cuban restaurant in Key West. There is even a cigar roller there, but not as much fun as visiting the real thing in Cuba.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Somehow Cirque de Solei isn't working real well for me on a football field. Weird pre-game show and then some! Not as weird as the pre-concert show at Paul McCartney's concerts, but close. Since none of my favorite teams are playing I will go with the team closest to where I grew up - GO BEARS!!! Now that I think about it - I am sipping a glass of Fat Bastard white wine rather than guzzling Bud, so I shouldn't be complaining about this unusual pre-game show. This is the one football game where I run to the bathroom during the game so I can see the commercials. Can't wait to see the full Chevy commercial the Freshman at the U of WI-Milwaukee designed. Wish Steve were here watching it with me. He keeps my shouting down to a dull roar! :-)

Hey - I just heard that the Police are going to play on the Grammys! Sting is the one guy I'd think about leaving Steve for - well, Cary Grant too, but he's dead.

I went to the Public Library Annual Fund Raising Book Sale. What a waste of time on the last day. If I wanted books clearly I should have went on Friday afternoon. There wasn't a single book I wanted left - mainly because there wasn't a single book on the Children's Books table and only some really old stuff on the Fantasy/SF table. But there were tons of people there with bags and boxes to fill up with books. I even checked the Biographies for old movie stars and nothing. Oh well, it did get me out of the house for a little while - man it is cold out there with the wind. But nothing like what Mary was just telling me. Minus 9 degrees in Green Bay without the wind chill factor. BRRRR!!

I just finished the coolest MS fantasy - Elissa's Quest by Erica Verrillo. It is the first title in Phoenix Rising Trilogy and I can't wait to read the next two. It's a new Random House title that will be out in June. I am a big Tamora Pierce fan because of her strong female characters. Elissa would hold her own with Alanna and others. Elissa is the assistant to the midwife who delivered her when her mother died in childbirth. She has the ability to talk to animals and lives a quiet life gathering herbs with her friend Gertrude, a donkey with an attitude. Life changes when her father, Lord Falk, arrives and informs her that she is the key to him receiving help from the Khan in the form of soldiers to help save Falk's kingdom. Elissa is to spend a year in the Khan's household, which doesn't sound that terrible until her father leaves and she learns the lecherous Khan plans to add her to his group of wives. Way cool book! My favorite non-human character is Gertrude the donkey - she has such a personality and when Ralph the camel falls for her, I was laughing out loud. Adventure and humor - what more could you want?

Okay - the game has started - gotta go!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Can you believe I woke up to snow this morning? It was beautiful, but didn't last long. It warmed up and turned to rain and melted the snow on the grass and roofs. It rained pretty much all day so we would have had quite a few inches of snow if it hadn't warmed up. It was the second time in a few days I have seen snow. Steve and I were in Lexington, KY from Monday through yesterday afternoon and it snowed big fluffy snowflakes and made the city look like a Norman Rockwell painting. I had to reach out and catch the dime size flakes on my black gloves. But, now I am happy - I have seen snow and that's enough for this winter! I guess our weather is going to be quite cold, but no snow. I have been using the fireplace since I got home - makes the livingroom more toasty. And thank goodness for heated mattress pads.

I had time to read during the flights and airport waits and finished Ysabeau S. Wilce's Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog. First of all I have to say this is a very long fantasy romp - 431 pages of chaotic adventures to help the waning magical butler of the family home, Crackpot Hall, where if you aren't careful you can arrive someplace totally different than you expected. Flora Segunda is about to reach her 14th birthday - the age when she will start her military training. She doesn't want to become a soldier, but her mother is one of the commanding army leaders and isn't about to listen to her daughter's nonsense about wanting to be a ranger. Actually, she is not home long enough to listen to anyone's nonsense - her daughter's or that of her alcoholic and quite out of it husband who comes down from his tower room long enough to help the bevy of dogs trash the kitchen. Flora makes the mistake of sharing some of her anima (magickal essence) with the house butler who has been exiled by her mother and the story becomes even more convoluted. Off she and her best friend Udo go in search of a cure before she disappears completely. The story line is delightful but the overly expressive writing, filled with made up words, drags it down to an almost halt a number of times. The characters are delightful as well, but it is just to cutesy at times. But, then again I am not a Lemony Snickett fan and I do believe they would love this book. Will be popular in MS and JH collections

Time to call it a night.