Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins

1. For me dullness is the opposite of creativity.
2. I have been reading so many good books lately that I can't tell you what was the last excellent book I read.
3. I like fill-ins because they remind me of mad libs.
4. In nature, I like looking at trees and stars.
5. I don't have a clue who should win the US elections.
6. The lst time I laughed with all my belly was obviously a very long time ago because I can't remember it.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I am looking forward to dinner out, tomorrow my plans include absolutely nothing and Sunday I want to go to church and read the paper and not do anything at all.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Booking Through Thursday -- What is Reading, Fundamentally

IMHO -- reading is feasting your eyes upon the written word and ingesting the meaning therein. I think all of the examples, except audiobooks, constitute reading. There are many types of reading, for example, reading for pleasure, reading to gain information or instruction, required reading as in a classroom, necessary reading as in street signs but for it to be "reading" it has to include the visual action of looking at the written word.

I think that "reading" changes with different stages in our lives. As a child, reading comic books for instance is reading as much as reading textbooks. As an adult, one may read for his/her job or education. People read novels and literature for pleasure. It is still all reading and all beneficial.

I think that reading is the single most important skill a person can acquire. If a person can read, he/she can accomplish anything.

Did I actually answer the question?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Earlier today I opened my email and found an invitation to join a group called Americymru -- a group primarily for people with Welsh ancestors. Since my great-grandparents immigrated at the turn of the 20th century from Wales, I decided that I qualify for this group and decided to join.

These same great grandparents are the people responsible for my interest in genealogy. My family always had a strong interest in family history so I grew up with the concept but I was always particularly fascinated with my Welsh family. I was close to my grandfather but he never talked of his home in Pennsylvania very much -- just snippets -- so, of course, by the time I decided to embark on my search of family, my grandfather was no longer with us to help. However, I did have some help along the way and I did find out a lot of information but, more importantly, I found family.

My great grandparents came from Blaina to Pennsylvania and remained there the rest of their lives. While they didn't leave much of a paper trail for me to search I did get lucky and find a cousin, Jim Slater. He has been very helpful over the years by sending me pics and asking his dear little mother, Jean, for information for me -- without him I wouldn't have been as successful. I also wouldn't have the most wonderful Welsh cookie recipe on the planet -- thanks Jean!

On my quest, I made a good friend, Len Clark of Blaina, and found a cousin, Michael Webb, living in Coventry. Both of these gentlemen have been very helpful and have really given me a link to my "homeland". One day I hope to meet them both.

So, I am looking forward to the Americymru group -- who knows, I might even find more cousins!


Since I have discovered the blogsphere, I find I am reading other people's blogs more than writing my own. There is a reason for that -- they are much more interesting than I am. I gravitate toward the blogs on stitchery, quilting, reading and genealogy -- all interests of mine. I admire all the photos that are up of the work that people do and wish I could be as crafty.

So, as a result of having a very boring blog, I have picked up the pace with my quilting and stitchery and reading and genealogy. I have a couple of WIP's that I can't show right now because they are SURPRISES but I do have a few pitiful pics of past projects that I could put up so here is one of them.

I became quite interested in ATC's a while back and bought a lovely little quilted number which I prize. I decided that I could make my own little mini crazy quilt, too and did and then sold it on Ebay. However I did keep a picture of it that I am including here. I only make one of these little things as I prefer to make bigger quilts so this is a one and only!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Miss Read Tales from a Village School

I just finished the first book in my self-imposed Miss Read challenge. For my first book I chose HER first book, Tales from a Village School. This books is not actually short stories nor is it written in chapter form but rather, it is episodic. Each episode depicts an event or maybe an entire day in the life of Miss Read, a village school teacher.

Even though this book is set in the English village of Fairacre in the mid-1950's, it is strongly reminiscent of my kindergarten year at our neighborhood Methodist church, also in the mid-1950's. As I read along, I visualized not this village school in a faraway land but rather the large, pink, asbestos shingled barn-like kindergarten building that I attended. The activities were quite similiar -- like going outside for recess and pretending to be horses, or balls, or pins. Or, perhaps, getting ready for the Christmas program. Or maybe the orange juice and dreadful gingersnaps. At any rate, this book had a very familiar tone to it and a very comfortable feeling.

Also, parents reading this books will recognize the antics of ALL children, EVERYWHERE -- boys will be boys and girls will cry. Yet, it was all handled with the deft nurturing of Miss Read and all was well in the end.

Very good book, makes me look forward to the next.
Young Readers Challenge

The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1, The Field Guide
Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1, The Field Guide is about Jared and Simon Grace, identical twins nine years of age, their older sister Mallory, aged thirteen and their mother Helen Grace.

In this first book of the series, the Grace family, sans the father who has left the family, moves into a crumbling Victorian house belonging to Mrs. Grace's aged Aunt Lucinda. The children aren't happy about much of their life since their father departed and having to move to Aunt Lucinda's creepy house isn't helping things at all. Mallory is into fencing which helps her cope with the life changes she is going through and Simon has an affinity for all things crawly like tadpoles and mice and such. Jared, however, doesn't seem to have an outlet for his anger and frustration so he has had a few angry episodes of acting out which has landed him in trouble and has really diminished his mother's trust in him. When strange things began happening in the house, Helen was quick to blame Jared.

Odd things began from the first day they moved in. They thought the noises they heard was a squirrel in the wall so they went on a hunt to find the squirrel but they found a very curious nest instead -- not of the squirrel variety. This discovery led them to explore the house and discovered a note, a riddle, a chest with a false bottom and, most important of all, they discovered that the noise was not a squirrel but rather ... well, I won't spoil it for you.

This was a VERY quick read -- I had it done in an hour. The age group I would suggest it for is about 8 to 12. While it is a mystery is isn't frightening at all and the illustrations are fantastic.

I have to admit that I was drawn to these books because of the covers and the illustrations. They are gorgeous little books and I am definitely going to add more to my collection. I would definitely recommend this book.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Fill-ins

1. On my laziest day I like to do cross stitch.

2. Vacuuming makes me feel like I'm being productive.

3. I love little kids and big cats.

4. This summer I want to lose weight and get in better shape.

5. Pent up creativity made me start my blog.

6. Red roses and orange marmalade.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching "National Treasure 2", tomorrow my plans include helping A to build a base for the gazebo, and Sunday I want to go to church and work on the back yard.
Booking Through Thursday

Ok, I recognize that it is no longer Thursday. I am slow, ok? Here goes.

"Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what is the difference between a book and a movie?"

Well, yes and no. Both books and movies are forms of entertainment so, in that regard, yes, I want to be entertained by both.

Both books and movies have the capability of being thought provoking, insightful, mood altering, shocking, and emotional.

Movies, however, are instant gratification and require very little "participation" from the watcher. They are relatively quick so there isn't much time to languish in the mood, scenery, language, etc. They can be very stimulating visually, obviously, and with today's movies that can be very powerful. I do think that movies based on books are generally lacking -- especially if you read the book first.

Books, on the other hand, are slower and the reader has the ability to linger over passages, re-read sections and visualize the characters and settings -- make his/her own "movie" in the mind, if you will. With books, the impact unfolds over the course of the read rather than have it "in your face" so to speak.

So, I would have to say that I want both to entertain me but my mood, available time, and situation would dictate which form would be more appropriate at certain times.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Shopgirl by Steve Martin

On a random trip to the second hand bookstore across the road, I picked up a copy of Steve Martin's "Shopgirl". I only paid $1 for it but I was, again, drawn to the cover and the size. It is small -- a novella -- but it powerful.

It is about Mirabella Buttersfield, a budding artist who works in the glove department at Neiman's. Mirabella is a conflicted young woman, quite complex. She catches the eye of Ray Porter, an "older" gentleman of great wealth, also conflicted and complex.

They fall into a relationship -- selfless for one and self-serving for the other. As the story unfolds, the characters grow in their emotions and understanding of those emotions and emerge far different individuals than they began.

The book is flawless -- it flows smoothly from one relationship to another, it unpeels Mirabella's conflicts like an onion, and you can actually feel the emotions as they are presented. It is easy to read, very straightforward and draws you in.

The book is comedic, also. How could it not be, given the author. Even if the reader was unaware that it was penned by Steve Martin, you can "hear" him in the narration as he has been heard in many movies. This book is very much the author.

As I read the book, my moods changed to mirror Mirabella's. At the conclusion of the book I have to say I was tired, emotionally spent. I would say that as good as this book is, it isn't for anyone who tends toward depression. It ends well, with a twist, but the process is a struggle in places. I have to mention that the book is rather graphic, also, so this wouldn't be for a young person.

All in all, I enjoyed it even though it was sad, depressing and bittersweet. It ended well but I have to say that I felt a bit like Anne Sullivan with Helen Keller in the dining room scene, emotionally speaking.

I would recommend "Shopgirl". It is short, a quick read, definitely holds one's interest -- just don't read it on a gloomy day!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Booking Through Thursday -- Manual Labor Redux

Again, for some reason, can't cut and paste topic so I will just go with it.

Uh, manuals -- yes, I do read them but generally not until something happens to the "gadget" and I have to figure out what I did wrong. And then I generally only read the section that involves what I did wrong. I usually leave the manual reading to A who does a much better job of it than me.

Self help books -- Oh no. There is no help for me by my self or anybody else, I fear.

How-to books -- Well, if cookbooks fit in this catagory then I would have to say yes. I read cookbooks. Now, that doesn't mean I actually do anything with the information once I read it but I do read cookbooks.

I would have to say that I do read needlework books. All the time and they are sort of how-to books with patterns and all and definitely self help books because needlework is the best therapy I know of.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Pocket for Corduroy

by Don Freeman
Viking Press, NY

A Pocket for Corduroy brings us back to our little bear friend, Corduroy who is living happily with Lisa. Again, a classic story containing all the elements that make it timeless. The artwork is great, the story is logical and has more text that Corduroy did. More of a story but still a great bedtime story that a parent would enjoy reading.

by Don Freeman
Published 1968
Viking Press, NY

I have chosen Corduroy by Don Freeman as my next book for the Young Readers Challenge.

What can I say about a classic? The story, while simply told, is not simplistic. It possess all the elements of a classic story -- a plot, protagonist, antagonist, a problem, a solution and an ending. The art work is timeless as is the story -- any generation can identify with it. A parent can read this to a child and not be mind numbingly bored yet even a young child can be entertained by it. It is long enough to get the story told yet short enough to make a good bedtime story. All in all, a very good little book.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Booking Through Thursday -- Manual Labor

"Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-to' you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries--if any--do you have in your library?"

I have a dictionary and a thesaurus. I HAD a Strunk and White but my daughter confiscated that. I have a number, maybe six, writing guides from a creative writing course I took a number of years ago. I still have some texts from college, also.

Do I read them? No. I reference them, from time to time, but I don't sit down and read them. I have been known to read encyclopedias for pleasure, however.

I have found that as I am reading more and blogging more that my need for such material is, once again, more viable. However, I am finding a new resource for that -- my daughter, who is a communication/journalism major, comes in most handy for that sort of thing. In fact, she has told me that I am entirely too liberal with commas which is evidenced in the previous sentence. So, while, I don't read these sorts of books, I probably should.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Fill In's

1. Two of my favorite ingredients in a drink are water and a tea bag.

2. Life often amazes me.

3. You can keep doing that forever, the dog is watching tv.

4. Cookie mix, egg and water, mix it together and, voila! you have instant gratification for your chocolate chip/oatmeal cookie addiction.

5. If I had a yard with a garden, I would love to grow fern.

6. Water is best au natural. (not what you were expecting, right?)

7. As for the weekend, tonight I WAS looking forward to a simple supper, a good movie and a big dose of benadryl (not happening by the way), tomorrow my plans include absolutely nothing -- haven't really thought about tomorrow but maybe a trip to Costco, and Sunday I want to go to church and have a VERY quiet afternoon and evening. Please.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Mayday!

Ok, for some reason my computer won't let me cut and paste the description of the challenge so I will just go ahead with it.

Cell phone ringing in the grocery store -- hmmm -- well, if it is at the bottom of my purse I won't hear it and if I DO hear it, the person will have already hung up.

If it is a family emergency, I won't be thinking about reading.

If it is a family emergency like in the DC area, I would have to get on a plane and be worried out of my mind about the family so I wouldn't be able to concentrate anyway -- I mean, really -- how can one try to help drive the plane and go into severe family emergency crisis mode AND read? Get real.

Of course, if the emergency were in DC, M would be saying "no, don't come, I have it covered. We are fine".
Fine, right. How could they be fine without me? Well, ok, they HAVE been fine without me but, well, you know.

So, if it were a local family emergency I would be involved in dealing with the emergency and therefore, would not be reading. In the DFW area, it isn't advisable to drive on one of our many congested, fast paced highways and read simultaneously. Texting, however, seems to be perfectly acceptable.

So, in my case, reading and family emergencies don't go well together.

So, I wouldn't take anything.