windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
This week, the New York Public Library released their Top 10 favorite YA books of 2015 list and it included my best friend and high school savior, Shaun's, anthology Violent Ends. (Huzzah!) The library also compiled a list of their 51 favorite YA reads of the year, with all kinds of searchable filters. It was great fun to navigate through. I'm trying to outwait an uncomfortable headcold, so this was perfect timing to find some new books to read.

Based on my interest in historical fiction with female protagonists, it steered me towards The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz and The Wrath and the Dawn by debut author Renee Ahdieh. I've been quite happy with the recommendations!

How do you keep up with new releases or decide what to read next? Are there any websites you follow that I should know about? I use a massively imprecise system of word-of-mouth, cover-art-snap-judgements, and chance encounters at the book store. There must be a better way! :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)

This week, I'm reading Pagans & Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience by pagan theologist Gus diZerega. It's the kind of book that I'm slowly reading with pencil in hand, circling passages and writing notes in the margins. I love the way that he insightfully and sensitively distills both religious traditions into some key essentials that explain the many barriers of understanding between us. There have been a lot of "a-ha!" moments where I realize that something he's saying makes so much sense but that I'd never thought of it in those terms. There's been something sweet and healing about those discoveries while I'm hosting so many Christian houseguests! :)

This passage, though, from a section on living within a pagan worldview, has been my favorite thus far:

Of all the world's peoples, we moderns have traveled farthest from the harmony of the world and spirit, and a daily perception that our world is sacred. We are almost completely surrounded by our own artifacts, and we see them through the lenses of our own preoccupations with power, profit, and pride. We also feel the emptiness that results.

Our situation is not really so bleak. While our society has obscured the sacred with everything it touches, we moderns can still reconnect with Spirit, with the sacred and divine, in honoring and pondering the lessons contained within what is most timeless in nature, and therefore least susceptible to our manipulation. It is here that Wiccans, and most other Pagans, find their scripture, a scripture that is renewed with every seed that sprouts, every droplet of rain that falls, and every day that dawns.

In seeking to experience genuine spiritual value we are increasingly drawn outside human society, into the timeless cycles of nature, and of life, in order to grasp that which is larger than us all. Doing so puts the frantic hustle and bustle of our lives into a different, and more fitting, context. So long as we are infatuated with the promise of technology and power, we remain largely deaf to the realm of Spirit. We are entranced, instead, by the narrow realm of ego, a fragment thinking it stands alone and seeking endlessly to be a whole while simultaneously turning its back on that from which it manifests and which sustains it.

Once we realize the ultimate emptiness of seeking power and possession, we are open once again to the more subtle but infinitely deeper truths graspable through nature and nature's cycles. We discover the true and sacred context which gives meaning to our lives. This context encompasses not only the cycles of nature where in many cases they are most apparent, but underlies all existence, even enobling and lifting up the secular world as well.

As a manifestation of Spirit, Nature becomes a source of wisdom. The cycles of the seasons are owned by neither corporation nor government. The phases of the moon are unrelated to either Madison Avenue or Washington, D.C. No human purpose mediates our encounter with them. They are available to all. They directly manifest value, and we need no access to copyright or cash in order to perceive it.


For us, it is in and through nature's processes that we most directly find our inspiration and our home. Those of us who have been blessed by the Goddess's presence know beyond doubt that this world is sacred, that it is permeated by Her love, and that this path can be one of shining beauty and profound wisdom.

Reading that is giving me a kick-in-the-butt. Like, "I should shut off Netflix and the Internet and de-activate my iPhone, avoid all non-essential shopping, and spend the entire summer outside somewhere!" The call of the Walden Ponds of the world is strong. <3

What's inspiring you lately? :)
windinthemaples: (kind)
In October 2009, two magical things happened in my life. One, I discovered the book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life and I also came upon an old metal newspaper box that had been repurposed as a community book box and chained out in the elements on our Chicago neighborhood's sidewalk. It was covered in graffiti and heavily battered, held more trash than books, but it was still glorious to discover. I started making it a regular stop on Graeme's daily tricycle ride. We'd stock the back basket of his trike with books to donate and transfer all the wadded up newspapers, fast food wrappers, and empty Starbucks cups from the bookshelves to the nearby trash can. We loved being part of that project--even though we never met any of the people who were leaving or taking books. I don't know who created the box and stuck it out there on Chicago Avenue but they brought me such joy.

And so, while I've contributed to coffee shop book shelves and other little community book swaps in the past, I'd not heard of the Little Free Library movement until [ profile] mrsbrewer started stewarding her own book box outside her home. It was wonderful--an organization that promotes and registers all these tiny independent book philanthropists, a searchable map on their website studded with little free libraries all over the world. I wanted one, so much, and so entirely lacking in carpentry skills, I started saving up money from holiday and birthday gifts to buy a ready-made box that I could plant right outside our new home in Florida once we moved.

photo 2

That pine box arrived and smelled divinely of fresh-sawed wood. I painted and stained it a buttery yellow color, to honor the spirit of our Sunshine House, and then it sat in our laundry room for seven long months because, frankly, I can no more install a library than I can build one. Finally, last week, I posted to our local town residents' page on Facebook asking for someone who had a post hole digger that I could hire for the job. To my surprise, within an hour, a team of five or six people had volunteered themselves to bring the supplies and show up for a sort of tiny barn-raising party on Sunday. Friday, another neighbor called me to talk about how best to install the box. In the end, he was so eager to help that he and his wife showed up with all the tools necessary on Saturday and found a way to tie the box into our preexisting fenceline so we didn't have to install a post at all. "You're in the library business", he said as he ran the last screw through. The Little Sunshine Book Box was born! :)

photo 1

Instead of having a post-hole digging party on Sunday, we gave out donuts to everyone who came by to donate books. In two hours we had about ten families come by and they gave a total of just under 200 books. We've got visitors to the box every day and up to 124 likes on the book box's Facebook Page. It's all pretty wonderful. :)

photo 2

photo 2

So, we are now happily hosting a book box and it is JOY to drive by it in our comings and goings, to restock the shelves and to see what's been taken and what's been given.

I got the box up and running before I realized my father's last gift to me, the check he'd sent at Yuletide, had paid for most of the Little Sunshine Book Box.

photo 1

That's heartbreaking and soul-warming both. My father was ever on my side when it came to my hare-brained philanthropic projects. (Thanks, Dad. Whether I was collecting storybooks or warm pajamas or holiday gifts or canned goods, you always made me feel like it was the right thing to do and you were always the first to pitch in to help. I cannot tell you how much I'm missing that.)

The Little Sunshine Book Box was a gift from him to me. May it be a gift to the community, as well.

photo 3
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)
How did I not know and why did nobody tell me?! Since last year's release of [ profile] mermaiden's The Dark Wife, I've daydreamed about adding her books to my library, all alphabetized and official-like. There is absolutely nothing, with the exception possibly of attending my son's dance recital, that has the sort of swelling pride joy, thrill, and rightness with the world than seeing the books of friends on my shelves. I have, and love, [ profile] lathriel's The Poppet and the Lune. [ profile] radshaun, my best friend from high school, has copies of his The Deathday Letter shelved between Marguerite Henry and Eva Ibbotson. I have two copies of The Dark Wife--one signed by Sarah to me and the other signed by her generically for that day I meet someone who simply must receive my spare copy.

I'm not against ebooks, but neither do I love them. Daniel bought me a Kindle as a surprise birthday gift back in October and I've only charged and used it this week for the first time. I don't mind reading webpages, newspapers, journals electronically but I want physical copies of books. I don't want to see a digital photograph of something Graeme made in ceramics--I want the misshapen coil pot itself! I don't want to view my friends' publishing efforts--I want to hug them and stack them and alphabetize them and plant them on park benches and slip them into book exchange boxes around town. I want them to have substance and to live, live as only a print book can.

So, color me completely shocked to be toodling around on Amazon, buying Crumbs and Far for this new Kindle thingy and discovering that Sarah actually has more print books than just The Dark Wife. (I'd think I'd have known this. WHY DIDN'T I KNOW THIS?! Did you know this?)

I did some remedying of the situation. For $28, free shipping, I will soon receive huggable, autographable, shelvable copies of:
* Hallow's Eve: A Halloween Fairy Tale
* Cage the Darlings
* One Solstice Night

So, in other news from the ladies of the purple shuttered cottage, The Fable Tribe, their new shop on etsy, had a huge update last night. They unveiled a bunch of new products--little sparkly animal 'faerie foundling' figurines, floral crowns and hair flowers, a rainbow of glitterful star bobby pins, shrines and stamped clay altar pieces, and even large Glamourkin wall plaques. I watched some of the update as it happened and then ultimately went to sleep and revisited the shop at 4:00am when Elena woke up to nurse. Thanks to my phone and some impulse purchasing, I ended up with five of their new treasures. :D I got:

The Fable Tribe
This fairy crown to wear for Midsummer.

The Fable Tribe
"Embody Peace" Faerie Foundling

The Fable Tribe
"Cherish the Simple Things" Faerie Foundling

The Fable Tribe
Gold Pixie Stars

The Fable Tribe
Magic Mini Shrine

If you bought anything, what did you pick up? :) I'm most excited about the foundlings and tucking them onto my windowsills with my vases of seaglass and other little treasures. That's become my altar to family and our home here.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (book magick)

I've answered many a question about my favorite books. I love Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon, Anne McCaffrey's DragonFlight and Walter Farley's Black Stallion. I came to paganism, or realized that my hard-won spiritual beliefs weren't as individual and uncommon as I thought at least, thanks to Kevin Sullivan's The Crystal Handbook and Scott Cunningham's Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner. I survived my late adolescent and teen years thanks to X-Men and Catwoman comic books and the paranormal romances of L.J. Smith. I love every wonderful word that Jane Austen ever wrote. I'd wholeheartedly recommend the work of Christopher Penczak to any current or potential magicworker.

But that'd all be repetition so I'll tell you something new by choosing four books that really speak to me as a pagan parent.

1) Celebrating the Great Mother: Earth Honoring Activities for Parents and Children by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw

2) Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill

3) Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
(Such a gorgeous, thoughtful storybook for children.)

4) The Next Place by Warren Hanson
(Another richly illustrated storybook, this pagan-friendly book explores 'the next place' we go after we die and what it might be like. If I had the money or the means, I'd buy a copy for every one of my friends regardless of their religious beliefs or if they had children. It is thought-provoking, colorful, and comforting.)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (book magick)
Note: You may have seen this same review crop up on Twitter and GoodReads, if you follow me on other social networking sites, but it is worth repeating. You can buy your own copy of Sarah's book on or $2.99--it's cheaper than that junk food lunch you were considering! :D

I expected The Dark Wife to be a romantic lesbian Young Adult retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth, a sort of modernized, supernatural love story underground. That turned out to be only the surface layer of an empowering, emotional, spiritually rich journey of one young woman who, with uncommon courage and compassion, overcame the impossible in charting a destiny of her own making to become one of the most powerful and enduring Goddesses of all time.

Persephone reclaims her life from those who sought to control her. She refused to allow men, whether Gods or mortals, to determine her fate or to write her history. She follows her heart to lasting love, yes, but more importantly she found within herself a Goddess to believe in.

This book healed my psyche. My tears soothed the bitter, broken places inside me that have felt victimized and powerless. Persephone's triumph reignited my own belief in my inherent goodness and strength. I was reborn, along with Persephone, in the retelling of her myth. Persephone is a role model, not just for lesbian women and girls, but for females everywhere.

Reclaim your power and live, fearlessly, with heart.


Is this book on your reading list? Have you read it? What were your thoughts? Did you sob like a baby at the Elysian Fields scene the way I did?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (book magick)
I owe Daniel $825. Repaying that without a job takes some creativity. I should be repaying it by turning a profit on the My Little Ponies I've bought this month. I'd like to try and keep some of them, though, which means earning money through other outlets. I thought it might help me get started to sell off some of my vegan/vegetarian cookbooks and pagan/magick themed books that I don't do much referencing of these days. I'm posting them here first before I tried to sell the leftovers elsewhere. :) Maybe one of my veg or pagan friends will find what they have been looking for! :)

Prices do not include shipping. I will use Media Mail for U.S. addresses to keep the costs as low as possible. If you'd like a shipping estimate before you commit to buy, let me know and I'll package and weigh the books you're interested in for an exact shipping amount. I'm going the quick route here in listing them because I imagine the people most interested in these types of books will know what they are. If you're not sure which one it is, let me know and I'll get you more information, an Amazon link, etc. All of the books are in excellent condition unless noted.

Vegan/Vegatarian Cookbooks
$8 Vegan with a Vengeance
$8 The Garden of Vegan
$5 Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook
$5 The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook
$5 The Vegetarian Cookbook
$5 Sinfully Vegan
$5 Vegan Planet (on hold for [ profile] mermaiden)
$5 The Vegan Gourmet
$5 The Voluptuous Vegan
$3 Skinny Bitch in the Kitch
$3 Easy Vegetarian Dinners (sold to [ profile] mermaiden)
$3 The New Vegetarian Cookbook
$3 The Accidental Vegan (beat up)
$3 Williams-Sonoma Vegetarian
$2 American Harvest: Regional Recipes for the Vegetarian Kitchen (a little musty but a very cool book) (sold to [ profile] mermaiden)

Pagan/New Age/Magic Books
$25 Power of the Bear (Boulet artwork)
$10 Crystal Ally Set--Divination Cards, Booklet, and Box
$8 RitualCraft (on hold for [ profile] morrigane)
$5 Wicca for Life (Buckland)
$3 Spell-a-Day: Lead A Charmed Life All Year Round (bought by [ profile] kehleyr)
$3 Wicca for One (Buckland)
$3 Witchcraft from the Inside
$3 Future Lives (Chadwick)
$3 Candlelight Spells (Dunwich) (bought by [ profile] kehleyr)
$3 Charms, Spells, & Formulas (Malbrough)
$3 Spellworking for Covens (McCoy)
$3 The Craft (Morrison) (bought by [ profile] kehleyr)
$3 Transformation Soup (SARK)
$3 A Glimpse of Heaven (Brandon)

So, if you have an interest in any of the above, let me know your zip code and the book choices and I'll figure out what the actual shipping cost would be. :)


windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (book magick)
1. Favorite childhood book?
I inherited my father's old copy of The Little Lame Prince by Dinah Maria Mulock Craick and absolutely adored it. You can even read it online these days, right here on GoogleReader. There isn't one clear answer for me to this question, so here's the first that came to mind. :)

2. What are you reading right now?
Nothing! I've been unable/unwilling/uninterested in reading since I had my kidney surgery. I'm too focused on the swing from mental stillness to reading/writing astrology reports and back.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None, currently.

4. Bad book habit?
I judge books by their covers.

5. What do you currently have checked out from the library?
Nothing! I returned about ten I Spy books for Graeme last week, though.

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. I'm a purist.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
One at a time with fiction and a few at a time with non-fiction.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
I read more YA than I used to because my friends read (and write) so much in the genre.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?):
Smoky and the Feast of Mabon, a pagan children's book by Cat Valente and W. Lyon Martin (illust.) broke my heart. I'd waited for months to see that book come out and found it to be almost incomprehensible, poorly illustrated and entirely uninspired.

10. Favorite book you've read this year?
I was most inspired by A Reenchanted World: The Quest for a New Kinship With Nature by James William Gibson.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
To a certain extent, I'm pretty adventurous but I won't continue to read anything I don't enjoy in some way. My life's too short to waste leisure time with things I don't like.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Spiritual, self-help, history, anthropology, biography, YA, female-driven sci-fi, distopian

13. Can you read on the bus?
No, I'm too busy trying not to miss my stop!

14. Favorite place to read?
Propped up in bed with a plate of bread and margarine.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I'm wary about lending my books out because I'm so particular about the condition I keep them in. Spine creases and paper crinkles make me cringe a little, so if I'm going to lend a book, chances are very good that I'll just give it away entirely.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
It has happened in extreme circumstances, I guess, but I can almost always find a piece of scrap paper or *something* to mark my pages with.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
In certain textbooks, books I was analyzing for class, or inspirational books--I have.

18. Not even with text books?
Yes! Especially in textbooks.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English. Though this isn't much of a competition.

20. What makes you love a book?
Lovable, inspiring characters and a sense of escapism.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If I'm reading through something that seems relevant to someone I know, I'll often mention it to them once I'm done.

22. Favorite genre?
Science fiction with female leads.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Hmm. I guess I wish I read (and enjoyed) poetry more.

24. Favorite biography?
Black Elk Speaks. Does that count?

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Yes! I love books, especially, that are geared towards counseling issues.

26. Favorite cookbook?
While it fails, utterly, in being vegan I am captivated by a cookbook that Tasha Tudor illustrated that has such a celebratory, traditional charm called New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook: Receipts for Very Special Occasions from 1968 by a Mary Mason Campbell.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
One inspiring book I read was called God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi by Rabbi Jamie Korngold.

28. Favorite reading snack?
Sourdough bread with margarine.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Hype didn't ruin it but Breaking Dawn, the forth book in the Twilight series, was really bad.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don't read professional reviews.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I think it is important to give an unbiased opinion of a book, particularly if a review site has nothing "AAAAA+! Great!" reviews for something I hated. I'm stymied now by knowing a few published authors and understanding how devastating and painful a harsh review can be to them.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
French or Ancient Egyptian

33. Most intimidating book you've ever read?
Probably my physics textbooks. ;)

34. Most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin?
Something on potty training? I don't know. I don't get intimidated by books.

35. Favorite Poet?
...see #23...

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
As a child, I maxed out my limit every week. Now I'm down to about 10 and they are almost all children's books for Graeme.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Sometimes. The most recent was Laurell K. Hamilton's Flirt that my husband brought home thinking I'd read while I was convalescing. I knew I didn't have the stomach for anymore of her bad writing trip! :D

38. Favorite fictional character?
Scarlett O'Hara

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Damon from the Vampire Diaries

40. Books I'm most likely to bring on vacation?
Usually just guidebooks or histories of the place I'm visiting.

41. The longest I've gone without reading.
I think I'm in one of those phases right now. It has been a few weeks since I had the mental focus to sit down and read something longer than a newspaper article.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
The Bible. I tried to be a good Christian as a child, really tried to read it every night before bed, and would start at the beginning of the Bible about every year but I never got much past Exodus.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading?
I'm extremely distracted by books in need of further editing.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
The Black Stallion

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Can't think of anything!

46. The most money I've ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Never! I may start reading the first page, but I never jump ahead or flip through and randomly read a passage.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
Bad/nonexistent editing, unkind or immoral main character, gratuitous sexual content

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I used to have my library carefully alphabetized before most of our books and bookshelves went into storage. I'd love to do that again. :)

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you've read them?
The half of me that likes simplicity loves to give them away. The pack rat voice, however, wants to keep and alphabetize them all into a grand home library!

51. Are there any books you've been avoiding?
The Harry Potter series. When something is universally loved, I get suspicious. I'm sure they're enjoyable, but I've been avoiding them deliberately.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Joanna Campbell's The Wild Mustang.

53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?
We were forced to read Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon in high school and it became my favorite book! :)

54. A book that you expected to like but didn't?
The Forest of Hands and Teeth and its follow-up, The Dead-Tossed Waves. I expected a lot more from such an interesting pitch.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Jane Austen!
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
My entire book-loving Friends List has done this one. :D

1) What author do you own the most books by?

This is a toss-up between Anne McCaffrey and L.J. Smith.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

I try not to own multiple copies. I do have extra L.J. Smith books because I loved them so much as a teenager and now they're being reprinted.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

No. The people who are bothered by it bother me. :D

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Secretly? I don't think it is a secret that I've been in love with Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries for something like twenty years.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life?

Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Danse Macabre by Laurell K. Hamilton (I quickly discovered the series really, truly, had gone-to-pot and was never coming back.)

8) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

I can't cut it down to one. The "bests" include: Jamie Korngold's God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi; Henry Cole's On Meadowview Street; Markus Zusak's The Book Thief; Nancy Cobb's In Lieu of Flowers: A Conversation for the Living; and James William Gibson's A Reenchanted World: The Quest for a New Kinship with Nature.

9) If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be?

John de Graaf's Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?

I couldn't name one human in history that has won it. So really, who am I to say?

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon. Did that ever happen?

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

The Bible. It'd be the longest movie ever and all the begats would sorta kill the pacing.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

It involved stabbing people with scissors in order to escape another dimension and really, who needs to hear more about that? :)

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. It gets worse and worse and worse.

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Wuthering Heights. I just couldn't get through it.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?
Ever seen? Oh, that's unfortunate...I've only ever seen the most famous ones.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
The French...though really, aren't they both depressing? :)

18) Roth or Updike?
I have never read a single book of either.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Again, I've never read either one of these guys' work.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare, for rereadable joy.

21) Austen or Eliot?
Austen, without question.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Short stories, poetry, award-winning literature. I find myself shying away from anything that looks like what I was forced to read in literature courses. I like my fiction entertaining and my non-fiction uplifting.

23) What is your favorite novel?
Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon

24) Play?
Perversely, I really enjoy The Crucible.

25) Poem?
Here's where the giant gap in my reading comes into play. I have enjoyed poetry but found no heart-winning favorites.

26) Essay?
Seriously? Lord. I wouldn't know where to begin.

27) Short story?
I'm forever chilled by E.A. Poe's Premature Burial.

28) Work of nonfiction?
Some of the most influential of my life include:

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional Life of Farm Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives by Dr. Brian Weiss
Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic by John de Graaf
Advice on Dying and Living a Better Life by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

29) Who is your favorite writer?
Shaun David Hutchinson :D

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
I don't know. I think books find their audiences and while something might not meet my needs, it may meet others'.

31) What is your desert island book?
A Grateful Heart: Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles, edited by M.J. Ryan. Hundreds of poems and snippets and prayers on gratitude, something I'd need if I was stranded alone in a survival situation. Of course, the unpublished "Eat This....Not This: Wilderness Edition" would be helpful, too.

32) And… what are you reading right now?
I'm currently reading Kelley Armstrong's The Reckoning having just finished up Carrie Ryan's The Dead-Tossed Waves.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (cookie)
* I had an exhausting dream last night that George the Cat, a very skittish fellow, was actually George the Horse, a very skittish fellow, whom I had to load into a trailer. It was tight quarters, inside a house filled with furniture, and he was anxious. We circled the trailer over and over again, sometimes he got all worked up and reared, kicked, shoving and trampling me into furniture. He wasn't trying to hurt me but his nerves and fear of the trailer were getting the better of him. Pretty cute seeing a seal-point horse, though. :) I'm feeling unrested.

* I made some super pink and girly cotton candy bubble bath and pink sugar scrub last night. Both were a little disappointing. The texture of the scrub was perfect and it looked gorgeous, but the delicate cotton candy scent, no matter how heavy handed I was, couldn't mask some of the yeck clay-y scents of the oils and other unscented components. It smelled, as sort of an afternote, like all those natural unscented soap products Daniel's father insists upon. It worked awesome, in testing, but wasn't as candy!bath of an experience as I'd been angling for. The bubble bath, too, was a disappointment. There the fragrance worked out better, had less to compete with, but it didn't get as big and bubbly as I like bubble bath to be. It was more of a hyper-moisturizing foam. I'm out of bubble bath ingredients. It's just as well, I wasn't happy with the product. The scrub, which I have ingredients for a second batch, was pink and scarlet and silver and outrageously sparkly. I love it. I just need to figure out a new fragrance strategy. I don't want to abandon the candy!bath vibe I'm going for. Maybe a smidge of amber in the background would mask the ingredients' natural scent? For sure, I'll need something broader, fuller, more complex than that thin, thin cotton candy one-note. If I'd gone a different route, in terms of aesthetics, I'd have a broader range but pink rock candy looks limit the logical accompanying fragrances. I'm having fun, though. I'd packed all my soap and bath-product supplies two years ago, when we put our house for sale, so it'd been a long, long time since I could do any fun mad-scientist soapy projects. :)

* On [ profile] radshaun's recommendation, I finally read Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games yesterday. Holy shit. I can see why he's compelled to buy copy after copy to hand out to people. It is a great weighty book. It has a lot of the underlying "our society is going to hell in a handbasket" themes as, say, Wall-E. Entertaining and disturbing. Genius, really.

* The grocery store here is selling used books to raise money for a variety of charities. I picked up a YA Arthurian twist, Lisa Ann Sandell's Song of the Sparrow on sight for $3. I'm only a few pages in but I'm horrified to see that the editors shrunk the margins of the page to use only the middle third for text, making the prose read like stilted poetry. 383 pages of this:

I hurry back to our tent,
eager for news from my brothers.
I pace the small room, the walls,
the thick folds of my
roughly woven dress
imprisoning me,
keeping me from the
affairs of men.

It may become the best book on earth for all I care but I will still resent everyone involved, and the inanimate book itself, for the pretentious, awkward, absurd format.

* After a week of working 8am-midnight, Daniel took off early yesterday, meeting me at the grocery store around five to walk home with my purchases. I tested my new bath stuff with a hot soak while he ran Graeme around outside for an hour and a half. We had avocados and cornbread and potato chips in a snack-dinner and watched back episodes of Survivor, House, and Top Chef. It was a very nice evening. :)

* Graeme's been talking up a storm after two years of almost no words. On the airplane, coming back from Florida, I buckled him into his seat and he said, "1,2,3....GO!". Ha! At the grocery store last night, he had fun driving the cart by telling me to go and then to stop. It took a lot longer to get down the aisles this way, but he was having such mischievous fun with it. I'd poise, stopped, waiting for the word "go". He'd slowly say "1..2...3...go!". Sometimes, to mess with me, he'd start grinning after three "!" I never knew how high he'd count (sometimes up to stuff like seventeen, which really got him laughing.) before the sudden go nor how long I'd get to go before he'd say, "Stop!". It was a laugh-riot. :D (And to my baby-hating readers, don't you worry, there was nobody around to be irritated by my cart start-and-stopping antics.)

He's also experimenting with sentences. Things like:

"Baby up!" (When he wants me to pick him up.)
"Baby go! Mama go! Baby and mama go!" (When I'm carrying him out somewhere.)
"More peas!"

It is simplistic, but fascinating to watch develop. Yesterday he was talking about his "Unka Woo", asking something that I couldn't decipher. He named his Uncle Shaun "Unka Hooray!" so I'm not sure if "Unka woo!" is another expression of that same name or someone different. He uses "mama" for all women and "baby" for all children, but "unka" is only used for his uncles. It was cute, though, him playing with toys and wanting to talk to me about someone who, whoever it was, wasn't there. Pretty cool. He's also starting to be interested in imaginative play, pretending that the remote control is a microphone or driving little trucks around with excited "Vroom! Truck go!" sorts of talking to himself. It opens up whole new worlds. :)

YAY! Day.

Jun. 26th, 2009 07:12 am
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (cow diva)
Let's flip to the last few pages and spoil the ending.

I met Janet Evanovich last night! She signed a couple books for me, talked to Graeme, and posed for a photo all while at a big book-signing at our downtown Borders. How awesome is that? Awesome. :D

Now, let's see, where were we?

I rarely drive in Chicago. I have anxiety over big city driving. That and the handy availability of public transit and walkable neighborhoods means that I rarely drive here. That's probably not a good thing. So yesterday, I gumptioned up and drove to our local Target. (A really easy drive, in city terms, with a big spacious parking lot to dock at.)

I haven't been to a big store like that in months, so it was really fun to plop Graeme into the cart and browse around. (Man, they have everything, that Target.)

I'd bought a really cute summery skirt at that Summer Solstice festival I attended, so I cruised around with that in mind and found a pair of flip-flops and some tops to match it. We stocked up on Luna bars and toothpaste, fruit strips and hair ties. I even got a pair of sunglasses at the optical shop to replace the pair I lost in Vegas. Graeme was having a frustrated day. The only thing that entertained him, it seemed, was pawing through the Schleich animals in the toy department and waving to his mirror image in the dressing room. The rest of the trip he was running a low-grade whine. I know that's just a communications error. I don't know what he wants, he's frustrated with my not knowing, and then his little toddler emotional center goes haywire. The box of raisins in my purse helped.

We spent a couple hours back at home before it was time to hop the bus for the book signing downtown. I knew, because I'm on her mailing list, that Janet's latest book in the Stephanie Plum bounty hunter series, Finger Lickin' Fifteen was being released and that one of the stops on her very short tour schedule was here in Chicago. The rest of things was just me traipsing the innocent fool's path and having people take pity on me. :D

I couldn't find my bus fare card and I was out of cash. I managed to find a roll of quarters from our laundromat days. At the bus, though, when I asked what the cash rate was, the guy looked at me and Graeme and my roll of quarters and told me to just go ahead and ride for free. :D

At the bookstore, a three-story monstrosity of a Borders on Michigan Avenue, there were people seemingly everywhere, masses at the registers, and balloon bouquets sprouting up from anything they could be tied to. Every aisle had people standing around with their Evanovich books and I had no idea where to even begin. I backtracked to an employee at a nearby door and said, "Is there a line forming already for the signing? Where do I go?"

He looked at me and looked at Graeme and said, "Here's a purple wristband. You can go upstairs already with it."

So dopey-dopey-do, I head past all the people in the aisles, hop on the escalator, and then stop completely lost at the top again where there are people snaked through all the bookshelves but no discernable place to start.

I find another employee and say, "I'm not sure where I'm supposed to go. Could you tell me where the line starts?"

And the employee spots my purple wristband and says, "You're purple. You go ahead up to the third floor."

And dopey-dopey-do, this still hasn't sunk in. I go up to the third floor, not sure what's going on, and there an employee spots my wristband and steers me into the event space to the end of a fifty or sixty person line there. We wait. We laugh at the person in the Cluck a Bucket chicken suit and get handed these awesome "I Love Ranger" or "I Love Joe" pins depending on our preference. (Ranger, naturally, but not if he's neutered by familiarity.)

One girl ahead of me said she'd been there since 9:30am. (It was currently 6pm.)


And then I started to piece it together and realized that I'd just dopey-dopey-do'd my way past hundreds of people in line. They were all in line! They weren't lurking in every aisle of the three-story store shopping, they were waiting to inch their way up to the room I was in, to meet Janet and have her sign their books. It would have been impossible to shop--the store was packed with nothing but Plum crazy fans.

The bounds of my luckiness in earning, by being pitiable, baby-laden, and completely obtuse, one of these coveted purple wristbands was pretty awesome. Janet was wheeled out in a wheelchair with a giant white cast on her foot and we all inched forward bit by bit with employees turning our books to the right page and snapping our photos with our own cameras and an hour and a half later, I had a fussy baby and the very great autographs. :)

And still, the line through the store's every bit of carpeted space wound on and on. I can't imagine, she would have had to sit there forever.

Home to Daniel and yummy Chinese food leftovers and a new episode of Top Chef Masters on the DVR. Such a Yay!Day. :D


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