Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Goin' a Hoein'

I've been trying to reclaim a back corner of my yard over the past few days. It had gone totally wild after having been left to its own natural instincts for too long. I have grand plans for that little corner of my world, but unfortunately a lot of sweat and sore muscles will be involved in getting there.

My reclamation tools: 1 hoe, 1 shovel, 1 pair of work gloves, 1 lawn mower, 1 (manual) branch trimmer thingy

I have a couple of pictures, including before and after pictures, although the project isn't done yet, not by a long shot.



There are three rather large anthills back there. I don't really want to get rid of them. I'm not really sure I could without using some super dooper chemicals. What I have done so far is I have left a fringe of vegetation (mostly little wild dog violets) around the anthills and I am letting them be for now. Below is one of the anthills with its fringe of violets. The violets have just finished blooming, so it's just the greenery and no pretty little purple flowers.

I also left one patch of tall grass. My dog likes to eat it. I call it doggy grass.

Here is my dog with one of my cats:

There was an old, rotten stump back there too which, once I had uncovered it sufficiently, my husband took a maul to. He had lots of fun destroying the stump - and left the clean-up to me.

I still need to take care of it.

I think that next on the agenda is renting a rototiller.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Is Rowling not taken as seriously as Pullman because she's a she and he's a he?

This article in The Guardian is an interesting read. Are women fantasy writers not taken as seriously as the men?

It's something to think about, but personally, I don't like Phillip Pullman's stuff (just a matter of taste, and I have a few problems with his world building, and his writing - but I know lots of people really like his stuff). I do really like J.K. Rowling's stuff. There are some who nit pick at the quality of the writing too, but that's a whole other discussion, and if you're interested you can follow it here and here.

The Kindle and Kids

Amazon has launched a new way to read and buy books - through their new gadget, the Kindle. It's a wireless reading screen on which you can purchase, download, and read books. There are lots of pros and cons - from people who think the days of the printed page are numbered, to people who think reading an entire novel from a back-lit screen is about as cozy as snuggling up under one of those metallic emergency blankets.But one reason that you may not want to rush out and buy a Kindle with which to read bedtime stories to your children comes from new research. Apparently, reading to your children not only helps their language skills, it also helps develop their fine motor skills when they turn the pages - a feature that the Kindle doesn't have. The following comes from The Week magazine:

Reading to kids pays off

Moms and dads who spend hours reading The Cat in the Hat or Goodnight Moon to their young children aren’t just lulling them to sleep. A new study says that every time parents read a child his favorite bedtime book, they’re preparing him for a successful future in school. Bedtime reading stimulates nearly every facet of a child’s development, from language to memory to motor skills, as he or she learns how to turn pages, understand sequences, and follow a narrative. “You can imagine if someone technologically came up with a widget that would stimulate all aspects of a 2-year-old’s development, everyone would want to buy it,” study author professor Barry Zuckerman tells the London Guardian. That widget happens to be made of paper and ink. Zuckerman’s study shows that the earlier a kid gets into reading books with family, the better his test scores are as he grows up.

You might also want to check out what the editor at the Horn Book Magazine (articles and editorials about children's and young adult literature) has to say over at his blog, Read Roger.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Art of Racing in the Rain

I just finished a book last night that had me sobbing at the end. Actually it had me fighting back tears at the beginning too. The first and the last chapters are doozies. But I highly recommend it.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Buy it. Check it out from the library. But read it.

I first read about it on a literary agent's blog before it came out. I immediately put a hold on it at my library and was the first to get it when it came in. Here's what Jenn Risko from Shelf Awareness (a website about the book trade), is quoted as saying on the blog of Janet Reid (litereary agent):

"It's a compelling story told from a dog's point of view. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is told from the point of view of a dog named Enzo who aspires to be a racecar driver like his owner, Denny. The TV is left on during the day while Enzo's owner is working, so he's learned a lot about the world. (He's often quite miffed at not possessing opposable thumbs.) Through Enzo, we learn the story of how his master fell in love with his wife, Eve, the addition of their daughter Zoey, and how it all tragically unraveled. Have a box of Kleenex near."

For a little insight into the publishing world and a bit of the journey this book took to getting published, click on this link to a post on Janet Reid's blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ode to Memorial Day and Sunburns!

Memorial Day is coming - be prepared with this warning!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Go Speed Racer!

I saw the movie Speed Racer yesterday. At first I didn't want to go because the previews I saw made it look kind of stupid. I was a big fan of Speed Racer when I was little and I didn't want my childhood memories of joy to be ruined by a bad movie. My husband convinced me to go see it when the paper gave it an A- in its review.

So we went.

It was great! Go see it, but not if you're prone to epilepsy.

When I was little I couldn't ever quite figure out if Trixie was Speed's sister or his girlfriend. I concluded that she must be his girlfriend, but I was never 100% on that. Thankfully the movie has cleared that up =^..^=

Really, though, it was a good movie- even for an old fan - they didn't let me down.

Now they need to make a good Johny Quest movie!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Do You Know Your Fonts?

Test your knowledge of fonts here (via Editorial Anonymous).

My score was 23.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What Flower Are You?

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Magical Gardens

Please check out this picture (larger one here). I found it while doing a quick search for late August blooming plants in Ireland on Google. This blog came up in the search with a page of August entries. I have since placed this blog in my 'interesting links'.

The image conjures up stories of faerie and magic. Doesn't it? What story does it stir up in you? Childhood memories? Come on - we all had imaginations at one point to do this image justice. It makes me want to sit down for story time.

According to the windywillow blog, the picture is from a garden in Cornwall called Heligan Gardens (more about the gardens here)and the scupture is by one Alan Thomas. It's called the mud maid.

Why was I googling late August blooming plants in Ireland? I was revising a manuscript and suddenly wanted/needed to know what one could find blooming in late August in Ireland. Although when I found the windywillow blog I became a little side-tracked, and then my husband came and suggested that we go do something, and that was the end of revising for the day.

One of the things we did was rent the movie Into The Wild. My husband had a small projection screen and projector that he had checked out from the library at the university where he teaches. He needed it over the weekend for a presentation. We ended up setting it up in the living room, and with the help of his laptop and the stereo, we had a really nice little movie theatre. It all worked so well that now he wants a big screen TV and surround sound =^..^= The movie was really good, by the way. I would recommend seeing it if you haven't already. And the book is supposed to be excellent too.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Writing Groups, Woot!

My writing group is so supportive. Any little achievement is celebrated. I won a tote bag when I placed 3rd in a local short story contest. They gushed about it.

I mean, really. This group is chock full of talented women who have already broken into the writing world big time (extremely successful essayists, novelists, freelancers). And then there's me. Hee!

That's support.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Garden Primer

I was excited to see that a second edition of The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch is out. It's come out on the 20th anniversary of the first addition - and this one's all organic!

I have the first addition, which I got (yes) 20 years ago. That book, along with Joy of Gardening by Dick Raymond helped put food on my little family's table when hubby was a grad student and we had two tiny children at home.

Between the two books I learned things like to use alfalfa kitty litter in the garden as fertilizer (can't find alfalfa kitty litter these days, though), and which plants will replenish the soil when it comes time to turn them under, and plants ideal for a winter garden (at the time I lived in New Mexico, so a winter garden was a real option).

I grew things like peas, sugar peas, green beans, carrots, broccoli, corn, kohlrabi, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelons, and pumpkins. Pumpkins were my favorite. They stored well and I learned how to make pumpkin pie from real pumpkins (and we even grew some for jack-o-lanterns!).

I can't wait to pick up the new Garden Primer. I think I'll drop some hints for Mother's Day!


Um, I think I'm the only person who knows her library card number by heart. Please tell me there's someone else out there who's done this?

A Heron

There's a small pond in the park next to my house. In the spring, summer, and fall I sometimes see a heron standing at its edge. I usually see the heron in the morning or in the evening. I call it 'Mr. Heron', although for all I know it's a 'Mrs.'.

My dog is always with me and I always say something like, "Oh, there's Mr. Heron. Let's not disturb his breakfast." And then I try to take the dog on such a route as not to make the heron fly away from his food pursuits.

Only once did I see the heron eating. It plucked something from the pond and then waded over to the shore before gulping it down. Then it headed back out into the water for more.

Mr. Heron returned a few weeks ago after being gone for the winter. It's nice to see him again.