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.