Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Well, I didn’t get the below posted yesterday. Steve came home and hurried me out the door so we could get to the fireplace store before they closed. No such luck! But, we did have a wonderful Italian dinner at Bella Notte – our new favorite restaurant. Great prices and food and the Chianti comes in a tumbler! We were all ready to be seated next to the fireplace by the manager when the waitress said she had just promised the table to another couple. We ended up with a free chocolate soufflé for dessert so no complaints from me. I could see the flickering fireplace so I was happy. It is so nice to get out of the house once in awhile!

We received more snow today so I hope Steve stops at the fireplace store on his way home as ours is not working. The plumber I called didn’t find any leaks in the gas line and said he thinks we need a new set of logs but it was not exactly his specialty.

Written Monday 1/25:

What a day it has been weather wise. While I have sat here at my desk looking out the window I have seen sleet, hail, big fluffy snowflakes, a few minutes of sunshine, and now dusk with snow in the grass but not on the streets. The UPS guy, who stops here almost on a daily basis to drop of review books, etc., said we may get ½ inch of snow tonight. If it freezes the roads are going to be skating rinks in the morning. Most of the school districts in KY were out the week after the Holidays due to the cold and snow so here we go again. The poor kids will be in school until July at this rate with all the make-up days. In days gone by, when I was a kid, we didn’t have to make up the days as they were considered “an act of God” so no required extra days. That has long since changed in Michigan but I remember burrowing down under the heavy quilt Gramma made while listening to the Finnish accented WMPL radio announcer’s voice float up the steps as he listed all the schools that were closed and when he would say Dollar Bay I’d smile and go back to sleep. Just watching the school district closings across the bottom of the TV screen when we watch the evening local news makes me smile. I loved snow days. Mom would have the wood stove cranked up high and the kitchen would be toasty warm and soon the deck of cards for Rummy or the Scrabble board would come out. Or, I’d curl up in the scratchy old maroon chair transplanted from Gramma’s house and read all day. No computers, no email, no online games, no iPods, - just books and family. Not sure much of that happens today as I learn the statistics of tweens and teens spending up to 7 hours a day on some type of device. It does my heart good, however, to know that 46% of teens still consider themselves book readers. That is wonderful, but I wish it were 96%. There is nothing like knowing the plows haven’t come through yet and it is below freezing outside but you are toasty warm and far away in a fantasy realm, where you can feel the soft flutter of wings and the whispers on the wind – imagination in full throttle. Now the thumbs are in overdrive while text messaging, hands clicking on mice (or is that mouses) and the fantasy world is already created for you in the games. I don’t want someone to show me what the fantasy realm looks like – I want to create it myself. I still want to create the book worlds and characters in my mind.

Sure, I use technology – after all, I’m typing this on a computer with two screens so I can have a web site open while responding to a student’s email. However, technology is a tool for me, not an end in itself. The technology doesn’t control what I do (yeah – right!) – I use it to do what I have always done, write about books and communicate with others, but in a different format. Even my office voice messages are sent to my email as wav files so I can listen to them on my computer. Would I like to go back to the days of snail mail and phone calls? In a minute, or at least on most days! I love talking to Mary on the phone, but note I am so multi-task oriented now that I am also clearing off my desk, sorting through review book, unloading the dishwasher, etc. So, I am not truly absorbing the delight of hearing my daughter talk about my wonderful grandchildren and her life. I’m not like my mom who I knew was sitting with a cup of coffee, (and sadly, a cigarette) as we talked on the phone. She gave me her undivided attention. Why can’t we seem to do that anymore? We aren’t even upset by the sound of the keyboard or mouse clicks as we talk to colleagues and friends on the phone. We know they are multitasking just like we are but in reality we don’t seem to be giving any one thing/person our undivided attention any more. It is well past the time of making New Year’s resolutions, and perhaps I am saying this because I can no longer multi-task with the finesse I used to, but to Hades with multi-tasking!! It fries the brain and in many cases it is just downright rude. For Pete’s sake - I don’t want to hear about someone else’s life as she talks on her cell phone while using a public restroom! Yup – I’ve turned into a curmudgeon!!

I am sure many of you watched the movies – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (loved the scenes in Greece), You’ve Got Mail (loved the kids’ section of the bookstore), and Michael (I see Travolta dancing every time I smell gingerbread – that’s what I smelled when I watched that scene). Anyway, Delia Ephron wrote the screenplays for these movies so I was intrigued when I received the ARC for The Girl with the Mermaid Hair. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Girl-with-the-Mermaid-Hair/Delia-Ephron/e/9780061990588/?itm=1&USRI=girl+with+the+mermaid+hair I picked it up and started reading the back and for some reason my brain changed “Sukie Jamieson takes a ‘selfie’” to Sukie was a Selkie and I thought I’d be reading about a girl who changes from a seal into a girl. I was very wrong – I should have been thinking more in the lines of The Picture of Dorian Gray as Sukie is so obsessed with her looks she takes pictures of herself with her cell phone (selfies) to check out how good she looks. It is no darn wonder as her mother is worse than she is – she has just returned from having a number of plastic surgeries. I felt bad (not really) for laughing that she almost pulled her earlobe off while putting on her sunglasses to hide the surgery induced black eyes, but it is so pathetic you have to laugh. Sukie think the sun rises and falls on her ever-smiling father until he gets punched out at the tennis club and she starts seeing another, sleazier side, to her father. Sukie’s world is falling apart around her while at the same time her Grandmother’s antique full-length mirror (which her mother doesn’t want hung where she can see it) is developing cracks. Cracks so that Sukie doesn’t appear “whole” when she looks in that mirror – perhaps it is accurately reflecting just how fractured Sukie's life really is. Although Sukie’s shallowness can be a bit irritating, as Ephron takes her own sweet time in helping Sukie see past herself, develop friendships, and realize just how dysfunctional her family is, it is fulfilling to see Sukie accepting herself as she is, flaws (cracks) and all. The satisfying conclusion is worth the wait. A to pique a potential reader's interest - her family takes advice from the dog, but rarely each other! A true chic lit book by a screenwriter who knows this genre well.