Posts filed under ‘Living’

(No) Time to Read

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this on this blog, but my life is in a whirlwind lately. I’m going to school super-full time, and I’m student teaching, and I’m working part-time. It’s pretty rough; I won’t pretend otherwise. What little time I have for reading is taken up by trying to keep up on class readings. All of my “fun” reading has been sidelined, and I’ve forced myself to put a buffer between myself and any recreational reading so that I don’t get off-task.

It stinks.

Despite this, I’ve had the chance to read bits and pieces of some good stuff. I read most of Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, the summer reading assignment for the accelerated sophomore classes with which I’m working. They did a few days’ work with All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and it was fun to re-read some of my favorite sections of that book. I’m carrying around a permabound copy of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha (ought to read that – they’re about to start working with it, I think) and next week I’ll be reacquainting myself with Antigone.

I’m also reading some interesting nonfiction in my field. Today I picked up a book that deals with a subject I’m pretty interested in: using Web 2.0 in the classroom. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson is a practical guide to implementing this new, dynamic technology in the modern classroom. Not only is it interesting, but it’s good for at least one assignment due this semester.

In guilty moments, I’m reading (about a paragraph at a time) a water-damaged copy of Gail Collins’ America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines.  So far it is both fascinating and depressing. I’m in the Puritan part of the book, and I’ve never much liked that time period. What a horrible time to be alive. My husband is taking a class on Colonial America (blech) so it’s fun to compare notes on life as a woman during that time.

Anyway, I guess that’s a quick reading update. I’m trying to scratch together some time to make at least passing posts, but most of the time I’m having to focus on keeping my student teaching blog. I hope that you won’t forget about me this semester!

October 6, 2007 at 7:36 pm Leave a comment


I just wanted to let everyone out there in blogland know that I wasn’t dead – rather, I’ve got a new job, and it’s doing some very funny things to my available blogging time. I’m so behind on my feedburner that it’s not even funny, and I haven’t read so much as a chapter in two weeks. Plus, my computer has yet to arrive, and the other computer has caught a bad case of the Civilization IVs, so I haven’t had a lot of keyboard time at home, either.

I will try to find some time to come up with something to say and say it, but in the meantime I encourage you to click on the “Links” tab up there and check out some of the other fine book-bloggers out there. Whether your preference is reading, book arts, or writing, I think you’ll find something good to read up there while you’re waiting for me to manage my time. 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

August 22, 2007 at 9:25 am Leave a comment


I wanted to share some of my fun recent acquisitions.

I’m leaving my current job, and had a floating holiday that had to get used up, so I took it this past Monday. Most of the day was spent on laundry, but I also made my way to the local slightly-less-ghetto thrift store for Monday $1 Tag Days. Basically, anything with a certain color pricetag was marked down to $1. I go every so often for a treasure hunt beyond compare, usually leaving with large bags full of like-new designer-label clothes that just need a wash. What does this have to do with books, you ask? The answer is this:


It’s so tiny – a little larger than those backpack purses you see now and again – and worth about two cents with the two rubbed out, except that it is blue and orange and extremely happy to see me. The straps are so short that I can just barely sling it over my shoulder when they’re completely let out. It’s the perfect size for a couple books and a notepad, and just right for a good chuckle.

That evening I got home and found an oddly-sized parcel from my Random Amusing Gifts penpal. (She doesn’t know I’ve given it a title, but I think it’s high time. Although maybe I need to go back to the drawing board; “RAGpal” might have some unwanted connotations, no?) I opened it up and found three things of incredible beauty. The first (which I actually wouldn’t discover until the following day) was an unripe huckleberry. Don’t ask.

The second was this, hand-selected by my RAGpal and her very astute fella:


This is funny, because I’d been craving a new little palm-sized journal for jotting down thoughts re: Weekly Thingies and book reviews, but hadn’t found one that felt right. And then, voila! The perfect book arrived in the mail! It has orange endpapers and an expanding pocket in the back, too, and is absolutely the exact one I would have picked.

The third item was a package of tiny souvenir photographs from Hearst Castle, which was an unexpected treat as my husband has told me about its wonders many times, but I have never seen it. I just can’t get over the sheer excess of this place! Really beautiful. One day I’ll write the Great American Bestseller (which is, naturally, somewhat different than the Great American Novel) and build my own castle, don’t you think?


I’d like to point out that each of these photos is taken using my depressingly blank cubicle wall as a background. I have little plastic hooks; the backpack hung from one, and I slid the book and the photos over it so that they were suspended. Not bad, huh?

And finally, we’re about to have a health fair, so we’ve got pharmaceutical promotional items all over the place. I am now the proud owner of a really beautiful and terribly ridiculous blue pen. Are you ready for this? 🙂


August 9, 2007 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

Paging Mr. Fleming

amphibious-car.jpgIf you’ve ever read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by gadgety car-loving Ian Fleming (oh dear, it turns out it’s a movie, too – Dick Van Dyke? That’s terrible miscasting – and I love the man, but seriously!) then you’ll likely recognize and appreciate the picture to the left – click to enlarge. This little vessel is infrequently spotted putting around an area lake, always with the straw hat lady in the passenger seat, always keeping close to the edge at a leisurely speed. It’s an amphibious car and yes, it just drives right up to the boat ramp and scoots on down the highway.

(Incidentally, I was deathly embarrassed that I got caught taking the photo, but I did get a nice wave out of it, so maybe it’s worth it. Besides, if you drive an amphibious car, you’ve got to be used to the paparazzi, right?)

August 9, 2007 at 1:12 pm Leave a comment

Like a Bookmobile, Only More Stubborn

Thanks to Book Patrol for sharing this great story!

Venezuela apparently has mule-borne mobile libraries that bring books to people in the most rural parts of the country. They are called bibliomulas, or “book mules,” and you can read one reporter’s account of a bibliomulas trek here. I have taken the liberty of lol-crittering the article’s illustration, below.


August 7, 2007 at 12:47 pm Leave a comment

Birthday Hedgehogs

Yesterday was my sister’s 21st birthday. I’ve been promising her for a while that I was going to make her a fabulous handmade sketch book, and on Friday I started digging through some stuff in preparation to do so. I got a great idea for the book – and realized that I was in over my head. There was no way I could finish the book by Sunday evening.

I’m going to make that fabulous sketch book, but in the meantime I decided to make her a set of little portable notebooks for doodling and note-taking this academic year. It also gave me an excuse to try Jackie Poutasse’s Hedgehog tutorial. I love moleskines but rarely splurge on them, so the thought of making my own appealled. (Apparently if you make your own, they go from moles to hedgehogs – kind of a Kleenex thing, maybe?)

I ended up spending pretty much all weekend (at least eight solid hours, not including shopping for the perfect sheets of paper) on a set of six hedgehogs, each slightly different from the last. A couple of them turned out near-perfect; one may self-destruct at any given moment. (I think I forgot to loop my thread back around a previous signature on one go-around.) But I love the way they turned out, and I think she really likes them!

The biggest one was done with heavier paper for the text block and, although you can’t tell, there’s a lot of glitter and gloss to the cover material. I covered the edges of this book with book tape from Kimbooktu because the paper’s embellishments were cracking. The monkeys one was the first one I did, and it’s a bit plainer because it served as my “dummy.” Fortunately, it worked just fine! The next one was tricky because I had to laminate a sheet of Tinkerbell-themed vellum to cardstock without the glue showing. This one is different because I didn’t wrap a second sheet of paper for the cover – the cardstock was heavy enough that I thought it made an adequate cover by itself. It is also reinforced with book tape. The orange one has orange paper, just for kicks, and my sister’s name spelled out in alphabet beads. The clouds book was covered by some fantastic self-adhesive paper by blogger Elsie Flannigan – Elsie, if you’re reading this, PLEASE make more of that stuff! And finally, the last hedgehog is adorned with some terrific fabric stickers with a surf-shop theme.

A closeup of the orange hedgehog. I wasn’t sure how the white elastic would work – typically one uses black – but I really liked the end result.

I bought this little hamper-caddy at the dollar store. When I saw it, I eyeballed it and realized it was exactly the right size. Sure enough, they just fit!

Finally, in the interst of full disclosure, a photo that shows off the slight problems I had getting the spines to adhere properly. The fore-edges are uneven, too, but that was intentional.

They were really fun to make, and not that difficult. I highly recommend the tutorial, and if this is your first book, I highly recommend doing a few practice text blocks first. (Binder clips are your friend.) Let me know if you ever make one – I’d love to see pictures!

July 30, 2007 at 7:35 am 1 comment

Serendipitous Book Shopping

As I said earlier, I’ve just returned from nine technology-free days. I took a small suitcase full of books (did you think I was kidding?) and read fewer of them than I had hoped, but it was all right because I was doing something marginally more important than reading: living.

(Word to the wise: your average book-filled suitcase, when left on the floor of an invisibly leaking tent, will not prevent your books from incurring water damage.)

I do have (counting) three reviews to do, and those will be forthcoming in the next few days. In the meantime, though, I hope you’ll enjoy some vignettes from our trip. Here’s one; there’s at least one more on its way!

We are eating fish and chips outside a little corner restaurant on San Juan Island, and next door to us is a two-story building with colors that pop cheerfully in the rainy weather and the word BOOKS in foot-tall red letters cascading down the side. These islands are full of bookshops of every variety (excepting “big box”), but something about this one catches my eye. I walk over, smell the exuberant violet clematis blooms, and step inside Serendipity Books.

It’s an explosion of books, a labyrinth of books, a whirling nor’wester of books. It’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen. Books floor to ceiling, tucked in corners, crowded among one another, from the front door to the glassed-in back porch and, for all I know, under the floorboards and in the rafters. The shopkeeper sounds British and knows exactly where every book in the shop is hiding. There’s an entire wall of fine editions, another wall of books labeled “Serendipitous Discoveries.” I think of my own fine editions and serendipitous discoveries, gathering dust in my home office, and smile as I finger the bindings. The shop smells wonderful – like leather and aging paper, book mold, slightly damp people, old house, tea. And there’s a vibration to it. The books are resonating with ghosts of their past owners and future readers – they lean on one another, push, eager to catch my eye.

While I browse the fiction shelves, I overhear the shopkeeper speaking with a customer. He is tall, Canadian, and smiling like a man who has accomplished something. In his hands he clutches a white book with a mostly-plain cover: Mason Williams Reading Matter. I gather from their conversation that he’d lost his much-loved copy decades before and had been searching for that specific edition in every used bookstore in his path since. Here, in this winsome bibliorphanage, he’d found what he was looking for. He makes his purchase, thanking the shopkeeper, and exits in a peal of doorknob bells.

Fifteen minutes later I am standing with a stupid grin on my face somewhere between books about art and about pets when I realize the Canadian has returned. In one hand he is waving Reading Matters, and the other is dancing counterpoint to his ebullient speech. I am not the only person in the shop moving closer to the cash register to shamelessly eavesdrop.

The book, it is revealed, is his book. Not just the book he was looking to replace – his actual, personal copy. His name is handwritten on the first page. He’d lost it in Washington D.C.. Thirty-eight years later, on a trip from his new home in Canada, he wandered into one of a thousand little bookshops on a Washington (state) island, and man and book were reunited.

This is a magical bookshop. The shopkeeper is unruffled, almost as if this is a regular occurrence. It’s clear that she understands why the bookshop bears its name.

I leave with a little hardcover, found face-out near the doorway, and a paperback translation of Lord of the Flies with English on verso and Korean on recto. I don’t like Lord of the Flies, but I love this book. The hardcover is called The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, and by the end of the day I have consumed it, cover to cover.

July 23, 2007 at 3:58 pm 10 comments

Glimpse into your Library

I’m not quite in a position to photograph my home library yet (ugh, mess) but I’m going to soon, and when I do, I’m going to send a 500-px wide photograph of it to Kimbooktu for her online collection. Won’t you share yours, too? It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be yours. 🙂

July 12, 2007 at 11:51 am 2 comments

Not Really a Reading Challenge

A few weeks ago we piled some unprocessed laundry in our library. I’ve barely been home in eight weeks, and so yesterday I finally got into the library and started sorting and washing. (There’s something so pleasant about drying clothes on a line. Not that I have a clothesline in my library. But whatever.) At one point, I took a short break by the bookshelves. I’ve been g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y logging my books into LibraryThing, so I took this opportunity to jot down a shelf-ful of ISBNs to input later.

Maybe I ought to be ashamed to admit this, but there were several books at arm’s-reach that I’ve never read – never even cracked the cover. I’m a bit of an obsessive book collector, and there have definitely been times in my life when I’ve bought books just because they looked intriguing and (::blush::) would look pretty or (::double blush::) intellectual sitting on my shelf. (Hey, I was a dormy for a few years there. If I couldn’t intimidate suitemates with a string of suitors, I could at least intimidate them with a shelf full of weighty tomes!) Anyway, the point is that even among a selection of twenty or so books, there were at least half a dozen books that were essentially brand-new to me.

And I’m not ashamed. I’m excited.

On teh intrawebz, bibliobloggers are always and forever signing up for reading challenges. I’m always tempted, but I know that that kind of structure doesn’t jive with my reading habits. I am a wayward and fickle reader, bouncing from book to book, sometimes reading ten or so books at the same time. It wouldn’t do for me to write a list of BOOKS I AM GOING TO READ THIS YEAR/MONTH/SUMMER because I could never know in January what books I’d want to read in August. New books cross my path, and I am diverted, like a cat who chases a butterfly until a dragonfly catches its eye. (I might, under duress, be able to draft a list of BOOKS I AM GOING TO READ THIS LUNCH BREAK… but only in pencil.)

But this is the summer of living simply, and I think that may mean that it is also the summer of unread books. I don’t need to spend any more money at the bookstore (or the library, because let’s face it, when have I ever turned a book in on time?) when I’ve got a veritable bookstore of my own just down the hall.

Last night I pulled out The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the Eye of the Beholder, a “creative nonfiction” book, and read a few essays. I’ve been reading Sebastian Junger’s Fire, also a book of creative nonfiction; it’s one of those books that makes you exclaim “Wow!” and “Whoa…” as you read it. Rhino is much the same, but on a much lighter – and funnier – level. It was a nice mental break from the stressful subject matter of Fire, and I have to say I’m looking forward to reviewing the pair of them soon.

There were several other tantalizing books on those shelves, among them The Magician’s Assistant and The Time Traveler’s Wife. I’m not usually one for reading BOOKS THAT EVERYONE ELSE IS READING, but maybe by now it’s okay to give these two a try. (Did I mention that I’m wayward?)

So… no list of BOOKS I PURCHASED CAPRICIOUSLY, SHELVED, FORGOT, AND AM NOW GOING TO READ – but I’ll keep you updated on those that do end up on my nightstand. Stay tuned, and wish me luck! I’m going to need it to keep up my non-book-buying willpower. 🙂

July 9, 2007 at 6:47 am 2 comments

Two Sisters

This comic kind of sucks, because it’s about my sister and me. She’s the one depicted with dark hair. Obviously it’s not really about us – I’m in no way acquainted with the artist – but it is, nonetheless.

::Shrug:: At least I’ll have a cool place to spend spring break, though, right?

May 7, 2007 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

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