Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Time is going by too fast! The last two weeks were a blur of grading, reading student portfolios and grant applications. The end of the semester is always extremely busy.

I wasn't able to go to the department gathering for our graduating students, or the College of Education ceremony last Friday, as I was in Washington, DC on an IMLS grant review panel. What an interesting but exhausting experience. Had the opportunity to meet and chat with wonderful librarians and LS faculty from all over the country. But the all day meeting, 3 hours in the DC airport, and getting home at 11:30 Friday night did me in. I was in bed most of the weekend. Didn't even have the energy to go out for Mother's Day dinner. Mary send a wonderful edible fruit arrangement that was yummy and Steve helped me set up the new ice tea maker he gave me. I am supposed to be weaning myself off of Diet Coke, both high octane and unleaded. So, I'll start with weak regular tea and move on to herbal as my carbonated soda addiction eases.

The coolest Mother's Day gift was a small filbert tree. I kept pointing them out to Steve at Lowe's as they have gnarled and twisted trunks and are so cute. When Steve told me my other gift was in the driveway I knew it wasn't a new car as I love my Santa Fe, but I was intrigued as I headed for the front door to look. I am delighted with the tree - now to decide where to have him plant it. I am the planting supervisor these days.

Steve's brother is in town for a few days and the three of us went to a minor league baseball game last night. The Legends are based in Lexington and though they aren't the greatest, they were quite good last night and it was a fun game to watch. Part of the fun is the sound effects and silliness of the announcer. I enjoy these more than the major league games, just as I enjoyed the minor league hockey games we used to go to in Houston. I'd scream myself hoarse by the time the game was over. There were lots of pop-ups last night that went over the roof and Steve kept teasing me that he could hear my car alarm when one went over. We were parked in the closest lot so I wondered. I knew I had reason to worry when we were in the parking lot about to get in the car and a ball hit the car next to us, just missing Rich by a few feet and way too close to my car. I haven't gone out yet to see if I have any dents on mine!

Just finished listening to Robin Cook's Abduction. The review on B&N aren't great: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Abduction/Robin-Cook/e/9780425177365/?itm=1 and I have to agree with them. I was glad I listened to an abridged version a friend lent to me as I was getting bored with it as it was. It is basically an Atlantis type story about a female scientist, the company owner, two very crude divers, and a ex-Navy commander whose small exploratory sub is sucked into the undersea world because the inhabitants are concerned about the drilling going on near them. The inhabitants are human-like but when they are tired of the genetically created human bodies, they die and their "essence" is added to a new body that isn't allow out of incubation until age four. A creepy book, but not creepy enough to keep most readers involved, even the most avid Robin Cook fans and I am not one of them. Unless you are addicted to Atlantis type stories - skip this one.

However, don't skip Craig Crist-Evans' Amaryllis, a coming of age YA novel set during the Vietnam Era. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Amaryllis/Craig-Crist-Evans/e/9780763629908/?itm=1 The Amaryllis is a real ship that ran aground on the Florida coastline near West Palm Beach in 1965. The setting is that of the author's teenage years of skipping school and surfing in the very area the two brothers in this book surf. But, Jimmy is left to watch the bulk of the ship rust in the salty sea are while Frank, he eighteen-year-old brother's feet rot in the jungles of Vietnam and his mind rots from an escalating addiction to heroin. Frank's fear of the Viet Cong and his decent into drug addition are chronicled in his letters to fifteen-year-old Jimmy who is left behind to deal with his drunken and often abusive father. Jimmy shares these letters with Sally and they form a bond as Jimmy learns to accept the realities of his home life and his fears if Frank will ever come home. The last couple of chapters I read through tears that silently slipped down my cheeks as I grieved for this younger brother with so much of the world on his shoulders in a time where the whole world seemed to have gone crazy to many young Americans. Hmmm. How many younger brothers today are watching the surf in Florida or other places they spent time with older brothers and wonder if they will come home from the Middle East. Bluntly - war sucks - no matter what generation it tears apart.

I can't leave things on such a downer, so I will close with Dear Deer: A Book of Homophone by Gene Barretta. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Dear-Deer/Gene-Barretta/e/9780805081046/?itm=1 The text is a delight, but what makes this book a chuckle out loud experience are the zoo animals Barretta has created to accompnay the text. The moose with reading glasses for "the moose loved mouse. He ate eight bowl" has a bib on to keep himself clean from the pink (strawberry flavored?) treats he is eating. Little ones will be counting the bowls. I love this moose just as much as the one in Fred Gwynne's A Chocolate Moose for Dinner http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Chocolate-Moose-for-Dinner/Fred-Gwynne/e/9780689878275/?itm=1 that was published in 1976 and still available. I read this one to my own kids - I think I laughed more than they did. But, I have to admit, my favorite illustration of Barretta's is of the tiniest critter of the bunch - a flea that is sitting on a leaf with a thermometer in his mouth and a hot water bottle on his head. "The bee flew away from the flea with the flu. And the bee can be sure that if he had the flu the flea would flee, too." The text is in large print with the homophones in bold face, making it easy for the adult reading this aloud to emphasize them, or for the older reader to pick them out on his/her own. A gotta have book for every elementary school collection and one that can also be used with tweens and teens as a starter fun writing activities.

All for today. This is my "week off" but need to get back to getting course documents ready. We are leaving for Detroit on Thursday afternoon. Steve is playing in a Microsoft golf tournament on Friday and then we are going to visit my older brother Bob in Kalamazoo. :)