Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday 13

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!

Still completely behind, so this is going to be rather random ...

Last week I read Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery for the readalong at the Midnight Garden, so I have a few words from that book ...

A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey

- a plain or twilled fabric of wool and cotton used especially for warm shirts or skirts and pajamas.
- is a coarse twill or plain-woven fabric woven with a linen warp and a woollen weft. Similar fabrics woven with a cotton warp and woollen weft in Colonial America were also called linsey-woolsey or wincey.


"She looks exactly like a – like a gimlet." 

gimlet (plural gimlets)
- A small screw-tipped tool for boring holes.  
- A cocktail, usually made with gin and lime juice.  

This one was confusing me, because neither of these makes much sense as an insult from a child, but I finally found out that gimlet was also used figuratively to describe something as sharp or piercing.


"...I got up yesterday spelling 'ebullition."

eb·ul·li·tion (ĕb′ə-lĭsh′ən) n.
 - The state or process of boiling.
 - A sudden, violent outpouring, as of emotion

A term which certainly describes Anne.


"... And then shall I run down the cellar and get some russets, Matthew ? Wouldn't you like some russets?"

russets - from Wikipedia "Russeting on apples is a particular type of skin, slightly rough, usually with a greenish-brown to yellowish-brown colour. Many apple cultivars have some natural russeting, but some are almost entirely covered in it, notably the Egremont Russet. Russet apples often exhibit a scent and flavour reminiscent of nuts, and are often very sweet. ... "

(This was one confusing the heck out of me - I thought that she was talking about russet potatoes at first!) 


I'll send her to the manse tomorrow to borrow the Peep of the Day series, that's what I'll do.

manse - The house occupied by a minister of a Presbyterian church. Origin - late 15th century (denoting the principal house of an estate): from medieval Latin mansus 'house, dwelling', from manere 'remain'.

The Leaskdale Manse that L.M. Montgomery moved into after marrying Ewan Macdonald in 1911, three years after publishing Anne of Green Gables. Macdonald was a Prince Edward Islander and had become the community’s Presbyterian minister in 1910. Montgomery lived there for 15 years. http://lucymaudmontgomery.ca/about-maud/
We need this one too ...

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's Monday! What are You Reading? 4-28

It's Monday! What are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

We are in the last couple of weeks of classes, and as it usual, when you are on the downhill slope - things pick up speed!  I have fallen way behind on my grownup reading.

I participated in the Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-thon on Saturday and in addition to not really having much fun (I found out that high-pressure, fast read-a-thon's are not my thing - no time for reflection, which is one of the reasons that I read) I also appear to have picked an infestation of spam hits.  Sigh.

Oh well - I read some good books. I got short reviews up on the first two and will be trying to find time to post reviews on the rest of them soon ...

I also read Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell and The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis last week. 

I know that seems like I managed to read lots - but four of the books are graphic novels for kids (Legends of Zita, Giants Beware, Monster on the Hill and The Secret Science Alliance) - which were really quick reads. If you have kids, all of these were great and both of my children's really liked all of them. The only down side what that Legends of Zita ends with a cliffhanger!

Plus I participated in the Anne of Green Gables read-along at Midnight Garden, and still need to write that review as well.

I forgot how much I loved the Anne book's - once you get back into the swing of the lyrical (and long-winded to modern readers) prose, it paints such an vivid and amazing picture of Prince Edwards Island and that period in time.

This week (déjà vu) I will finish Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. 

I also had a couple of environmental news posts last week...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bout of Books 10.0 Signup Post

Bout of Books
Hurray !  Bout of Book 10.0 signups are open!  Since was whingeing on about how I liked Bout of Books, I checked and was quite glad to find that I can sign up now.

This will be my second 'bout' so once again I have to remind myself NOT TO GET CARRIED AWAY!  Here is the event info ...

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

See - there we go - low pressure - apparently I need my read-a-thons to be low pressure. I also need to do better with book selection this time and remember to include more ebooks, since that is what I spent the most time reading last time. The bulk of my fun reading time is in the dark after the kids are asleep.

Once again the week falls during a point in the year that  my normal amount of pleasure reading would be right around zilch - it's Finals week and I will be giving and grading three exams plus grading all of the outstanding project and homework. I plan to balance pulling out my hair grading with reading something light and fun to help keep me from going nuts.

When I was in college the week after finals I would go to the library and check out armloads of children's books (it was during one of those trips that I found the first Harry Potter book - there was just the one at the time!).  I still do something like that, I will just be starting a week and a half earlier than usual. My list will be heavy on funny stuff this time. Last time I made the mistake of listing a bunch of 'grownup' modern literature and stuff with lots of buzz that sounded like something I should like but that I was appalled by (Discovery of Witches, I am looking at you). Not this time. I will be feckless and frivolous and have fun (and alliterative too, I guess).

Time Devoted to Reading

I plan to devote at least two hours each day (probably split between lunch and just after the kids fall asleep) to reading for pleasure.

My Goals

  • To read 6 books for pleasure (to heck with books for classes - I have all summer for that).
  • Complete at least a summary review for each book read
  • I also want to participate in at least three challenges (I did all but one last time, but my time will be more thoroughly occupied with grading this time around).  
Details to be added at a later date :)

Update - I have added a Bout of Books 10.0 Goals List and will post my update information there.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross Road  
by Helene Hanff

Published: Penguin Books
Format: paperback
Copyright: 1970
Pages: 97
Genre: Biography
Source: personal copy

From the back cover:
This charming classic, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, a free-lance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so accurately in these letters, is one that will grab your heart and not let go. 

Firstly I have to announce discontent - that is the wrong cover for me. I can't find a decent version of the cover I do have online and I can't seem to take one myself. Sigh.

Secondly, based simply on reading the letters in the book, I really wonder what Helene Hanff would have thought of being called winsome and sentimental.  I rather think that would have elicited some blue language from her. I would have chosen heart-felt and empathetic or something. The letters here provide an intimate glimpse of a window in time, 1949 - 1969, that was important historically both in the US and the UK, and also quite different from the modern world. I was swallowed whole by the book and it actually brought tears to my eyes at the end.

I have been to London twice, but didn't know about Marks and Co. or this book at the time (I performed pilgrimages to other sites like the Tower of London in the short amount of free time I had - I was there for a conference). When I get back there (and I desperately want to) I will have to go visit the commemorative plaque.

I ordered a copy of The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, written in 1973 after Hanff finally got to visit London, immediately after finishing, and now have a whole host of things that I want to read more about.  Five claws for a surprising amount emotional depth packed into a tiny space.

Nurk by Ursula Vernon

Nurk: The Strange, Surprising, Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew
by Ursula Vernon

Published: Harcourt, Inc.
Format: hardback
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 131
Genre: Fantasy, Children's literature
Source: personal copy

From the cover:  
Nurk is a quiet homebody of a shrew. Until the day a mysterious letter arrives. Suddenly he's involved in a harrowing rescue – the likes of which would intimidate even the biggest and bravest of shrews. 

Alas, Nurk is neither big nor brave – but this spine-tingling, life-threatening adventure might be the best thing that ever happened to him.  

I love Ursula Vernon's stories. She has such a wonderful, mildly snarky sense of humor. Nurk works well as an adventure story for a child (read-aloud time!) but also works on an adult level. This book made me laugh out loud several times. It's a thin little book, so I don't want to give anything away, which makes it a little tricky to review. I would read it again, want to read it to my kids and really wish she had done another story with this character! Five claws for me, simply for making me happy.

Here are a couple of quotes -

"How do I know you're a shrew ? You got any identification?"

Nurk glanced down at himself, baffled. No one had ever questioned whether he was a shrew before. It was generally considered self-evident. "Errr ... what else could I be?" 

  +++       +++      +++  

... the voice was very scary. 

"Stay back!" He cried. "I have - um - socks!" 

There was a pause while the voice considered this threat.

"Dirty or clean?" it asked.

"Clean," Nurk was forced to admit. 

"Then I am afraid that I'm not very scared of your socks," said the voice. "Dirty socks, maybe. Clean socks, however, are just not scary."  

Her artwork is also terrific. She gets such wonderful expressions on her characters. You can see some of her work at http://www.redwombatstudio.com/ 

Sunday Post 5

The Sunday Post
The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer

I am not sure how we got to the end of April to fast!  I tried my first read-a-thon, the Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-thon, yesterday and discovered that a huge, fast-paced, 24-hour read-a-thon is really not my thing.  I think I will stick to things have a more drawn out and less frenetic vibe, like Bout of Books.

This past week has been really busy, so much so that I haven't posted any book reviews, which is rather unusual. I finished several - 5 yesterday, but haven't had time to write anything up.  I will be trying to find time to post reviews on ...
I also read Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell and The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis. 

Plus I participated in the Anne of Green Gables read-along at Midnight Garden, and still need to write that review as well.
 I also had a couple of environmental news posts ...

Hour 24 - Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-thon - Updated slightly

Updated slightly since I didn't realize how cranky I was when I wrote this early this morning.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
I am not sure how to answer this one. I was daunted for many reasons at various times - there is generally lots going on in the house over the weekend and I can't just put it all aside to read so I already knew that I would only participate in a somewhat limited way.

There wasn't an hour that I found daunting so much as trying to figure out how to participate and connect in any way that was daunting to me.  Trying to read, looking at/doing challenges and posting some sort of update - tough. I never found a balance and since I signed up too late for cheerleaders, updating turned out to be kinda pointless since I had very few visitors and only a couple of comments. I did use Twitter some, but it is not my native habitat, so I connected a bit more there but was really hard to keep up with.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
It turned out for me that epistolary books worked best.  I really enjoyed 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - they held my attention and were easy to stay engaged with. And Nurk is short, sweet and awesome.    

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

I have no idea - this was the first one that I participated in so I am not sure what to suggest that would logistically be doable.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
Again, I am not sure, since I have no basis for comparison. Sorry.

5. How many books did you read?
 Read something out of ... 8
 Finished ... 5

6. What were the names of the books you read?
Nurk: The Strange, Surprising, Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew by Ursula Vernon. 
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Giants Beware by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Changeless by Gail Carriger - I managed about 8 pages and realized I just wasn't interested right now.

Half Upon a Time by James Riley - which I got 56 pages into and had to stop since it was lights out and I had a paperback copy. I want to read more of this one today.
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach - I read about 50 pages (it's downstairs so I don't know for sure) but it is a hardback and was a pain to carry around.

I read to the 27% mark of Austenland by Shannon Hale, since I like her kids books, but I found the whole premise creepy and was not enjoying it.  I gave up and switched to Guernsey Literary ... Society  which was much more to my taste.

Oh, I also read a few pages of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard but OMG ick, ick,  ICK!!!

I also read some children's books with my daughter - Donald Duck and the Magic Stick, The Princess who Never Laughed and the like, but I wasn't counting those.

I ended up having to stick with small books because I spent most of the day trying to do things one-handed and carrying around heavy books was too much of a bother. Then switched to e-books when the kids were asleep.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Nurk: The Strange, Surprising, Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew  - Ursula Vernon is awesome and I love her sense of humor. 

8. Which did you enjoy least?
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard ! Ick! I couldn't get past her graphic biology of decay - yuck! Nightmare inducing stuff.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

N/A  - Thought clearly Cheerleaders are super-important since the readers are so concentrated on reading that they don't get a chance to visit other sites. Kudos to the cheerleaders out there!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
At this point I really don't think I am likely to do something like this again.  I really enjoyed Bout of Books, the only other thing of this type I have tried, and that seems to be way more my speed. The super-condensed format of doing everything in 24-hours just wasn't much fun for me.

I am glad that I tried this, and if I had signed up sooner and knew that I would have come cheerleaders visiting occasionally, I think that would have made a difference in my attitude, especially in the wee hours.  The challenges were also outside my ability to attempt - balancing books on either me or to make a Jenga stack would have woken everyone else in the house - so no good. And dressing up - couldn't do that either without waking people up to rummage around in a closet.  I was feeling really left out.  So - might not be for me unless I can ditch the family for 24-hours and right now, I would rather spend that time with my kids than without them.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Readathon: Hour 16 Mini Challenge

  1. Turn to page 35 in your current read.
  2. Find sentence #3.
  3. That’s the first sentence of a little piece of writing! It doesn’t matter if that’s a short story, a poem, the introduction to something bigger… anything creative counts. Bonus points if you make it a totally different genre to your original read!
I am pretty sure that I am not making any sense any more, but here goes ... staring with a page 35 sentence from 
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows -  

Ships are coming into St. Peter Port harbor every day to bring us things Guernsey still needs: food, clothes, seed, plows, feed for animals, tools, medicine - and most important, now that we have food to eat, shoes.

Our colony was still so new that when the interstellar battle started, we were completely unprepared. The terra-forming had only just been completed and the ground broken to grow the first crops. We were so busy trying to get the crops to grow that we missed the ominous signs from Brighton, when their ships began to make incursions into Islington space.

Not only were food stocks low, it also turned out that we were missing some key industries, like weaving and shoe-making. While the battle ranged on in the stars, our supplies began to dwindle and the colonists starting looking like refugees from some pre-lightspeed historical play. By the time Brighton surrendered, there wasn't a decent pair of shoes left on the planet.

Now, after being dormant for so long, the space port was a hive of activity with ships arriving hourly and the supplies divided up into load to go by ship, train, car or even wagon to enclaves all over Guernsey colony.

Hour 15 – That Reminds Me of a Book!

In Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells, Emilie runs away from home and in a effort to stow away on a steamship ends up  ...  going somewhere else entirely. The world they visit is partial undersea - semi-submerged cities with semi-aquatic people, so this picture evokes some of the feel of the strangeness of the underwater world.

Dewey’s Name in Titles Mini-Challenge

E - Emilie & the Hollow World by Martha Wells
L - Longitude by Dava Sobel
I - Irish Chain by Earlene Fowler
S - Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
A - Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Readathon Hour 13 Mini-Challenge: Book Blending!

Guess what I don't have much of ?  Books that feature large pictures of people or faces on the cover!  Trolling quickly around I found this book, a cover with Shakespeare and one with Sonia Sotomayor.

So ... here is my book blend - the expression on my face is supposed to go with the book cover, since my hair color clearly doesn't. I am not really that grumpy, honest!

Readathon Hour 12 — Mid Event Meme! You’re Halfway There!

1. What are you reading right now?
Half Upon a Time by James Riley

2. How many books have you read so far?
I have completed three books. My son completed one. 

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon
I am not sure. I think I might try Cress. I also am sort of looking forward to reading more of Packing for Mars. I also might get the e-book of Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher (really Ursula Vernon).

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Haa ha ha Haaaa ! Who says I freed up my whole day ?  I have been keeping the kids entertained, doing dishing, making lunch, washing laundry, picking up my son from his play date and mostly doing it all one handed (not the driving though). 

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Um yes - see above - I dealt with most things one handed.  

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
This is my first read-a-thon and I signed up too late for any cheerleaders so honestly I am feeling a distinct lack of community.  When I participated in Bout of Books in January I felt way more connected. I have visited Twitter some but can't really keep up with it and do any reading too.  This seems pretty lonely really.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Not really - I don't know enough about it yet since this is my first time. 

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
See if the grandparents could watch the kids - they are really tired and cranky today - it is cold and sleeting so they can't play outside and so the combined effect of cabin fever and general tiredness means there is lots of screaming and fighting today - way more than normal which is making it rather hard to concentrate on reading, sigh. 

9. Are you getting tired yet?
I started tired. 

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
I haven't even figured out what works well for me yet!  

Readathon Hour 11 Mini-Challenge: First Editions

Here is the 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff 14th edition copyright page

And here is the Packing for Mars by Mary Roach 1st edition copyright page

Dewey’s Readathon MiniChallenge – Shelfie

Yergh! I hate having my picture taken ! I doubly hate the idea of taking my own picture and showing it off. So I am going strictly with some vanity shots of some of my books. The top one is really a deskie.

Here are some of the books from my desk at work (there are many, many more on shelves.

Here is a random picture of some of the books on one of the shelves.

Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon Update 3

My little Leopard and I just finished reading Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.

It is a fun sequel to the graphic novel Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.  The only down side is that it ended with a cliffhanger!  Now we have to wait for the next one! 

My little Leopard really liked the kitty, a new character in this installment.

We are off to pick up my son and get some snacks!

Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon Update 2

I just finished reading 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. It was an excellent read but quite the switch from my last book. The ending was so sad!

I just ordered a used copy of The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street though.

One sprout is now at a play date and the other is watching Disney's Jungle Book - she had me read the story to her last night and seems to be having lots of fun.

I have to find something fun to read to make me feel better!

A couple of short quotes from some of Helene Hanff's letters...

Kindly inform the Church of England they have loused up the most beautiful prose ever written, whoever told them to tinker with the Vulgate Latin? They'll burn for it, you mark my words.

or how about ...

You may add Walton's Lives to the list of books that you aren't sending me. It's against my principles to buy a book I haven't read, it's like buying a dress you haven't tried on, but you can't even get Walton's Lives in a library over here. 

Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon Update 1

 My son read for just under two hours and finished The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  He really likes this book and loves the idea of inventing an automaton.

I just finished Nurk: The Strange, Surprising, Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew by Ursula Vernon. It is a short book but I loved the language so much I kept going back and re-reading parts.  I love this book. It is going to get a full review after the read-a-thon.

Here is a sample ...

... the voice was very scary. 

"Stay back!" He cried. "I have - um - socks!" 

There was a pause while the voice considered this threat.

"Dirty or clean?" it asked.

"Clean," Nurk was forced to admit. 

"Then I am afraid that I'm not very scared of your socks," said the voice. "Dirty socks, maybe. Clean socks, however, are just not scary." 

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon Hour 0 – Kick Off Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
       From the Northeastern United States - Western New York

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
      I am not that organized - I didn't pick specific books to read. Instead I have a whole bunch of books piled around me that I might read and I look forward to lots of them.  I am also going to read several books to my daughter. My son plans to read The Invention of Hugo Cabret (he loves that book).

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
      We are going to have some toasted cheese bread- yum !

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
   I am Earth Scientist (mostly environmental stuff) and I just started blogging this year (for fun not work - I have done lots of webstuff for work). The idea originally was to have the kids do short book reviews to help them with restating themes and expressing their opinions. I had so much fun that I started doing lots of book blogging myself, though I am still trying to convince the kids to do more. 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
   This is my first read-a-thon!  The thing I am looking forward to is ... getting to do some reading!  We are off to a slightly awkward start - I was explaining about the read-a-thon to the kids. So as we were getting ready for bed my daughter walks up with a big pile of books and starts reading titles and describing them to me. I asked if they were for the read-a-thon and she said yes.  But then she climbed into bed with them and handed me one.  "Do you want me to read them now ?" "Yes!" "But the read-a-thon is tomorrow." "You can read them to me again tomorrow!"  O-o

So we read Button Soup, The Princess who Never Laughed, Brer Rabbit and his Friends, Disney Jungle Book and There's a Wocket in my Pocket before she finally would go to sleep.

And I handed my son a book to read - thinking that he could wake up in the morning and pick it up to read - he read the whole thing before going to bed last night.

Now - I am going to pick up something and read! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Anne of Green Gables Raffle at Midnight Garden

The Midnight Garden is holding a wonderful raffle. Sourcebooks Fire has provided them with two sets of absolutely gorgeous L.M. Montgomery books to give away. The first set contains all six of the Anne books - the covers are just amazing. The other set of books are lesser known Montgomery books, also with lovely covers, that would still be an excellent addition to your library.  Visit their Anne of Green Gables read-along page to enter.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A peak into Anne of Green Gables and Abominable Science

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader.

I joined the 2014 Classic YA/MG Challenge and the book for this month is Anne of Green Gables.  I loved this book as a girl and haven't re-read it for years.

Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof. 

(Whew! That is one heck of an opening sentence.)

Ladies' eardrops ???  Ah - Fuchsias!

For my non-fiction selection, I am feeling a bit frivolous - how about this ... Abominable Science by Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero. I would post the cover, but honestly it is pretty yeargh and would go very poorly with the lovely fuchsias.

Ever since we were youngsters, we have been enthralled with ideas about monsters and magnificent creatures with mythic and ancient roots. Indeed we have never really gotten over being smitten with magical beasts. That is why one of us became a writer and an illustrator of books for young readers about creatures great and small, and the other became a paleontologist who studies the history of life on Earth as revealed through fossils.

For The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice here is something from around the 56% mark of Anne of Green Gables -

"Dear me, there is nothing but meetings and partings in this world, as Mrs. Lynde says," remarked Anne plaintively, putting her slate and books down on the kitchen table on the last day of June and wiping her red eyes with a very damp handkerchief. "Wasn't it fortunate, Marilla, that I took an extra handkerchief to school today? I had a presentiment that it would be needed." 

From Abominable Science on page 56 we get ...

Some accounts feature Sasquatches with with huge pointed ears, complex markings, or heights over 12 feet tall. Bigfoot is reported in many colors, at many sizes, with many diverging anatomies. In some reports, Bigfoot can speak human languages. And, although this is systematically downplayed in the mainstream Bigfoot literature, it is very common for witnesses to claim that Bigfoot has paranormal features and abilities, such as eyes that literally glow, psychic powers, or flying saucer type vehicles. 

(Mainstream Bigfoot literature ? This seems to be an oxymoron.)
Okay - I am sold - you can find anything on the Internet.

Update - The Midnight Garden is holding a raffle for all six of the Anne of Green Gables books.

Interactive map shows schools + chemical storage

I had meant to get to this earlier, closer to the anniversary ...

On April 17, 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas. The facility was on fire and emergency responders were onsite attempting to control the blaze when, at approximately 7:50:38 p.m. CDT a massive explosion leveled the plant and destroyed many other buildings nearby. 

All told, fifteen people were killed, more than 160 were injured, and more than 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed.

As bad as this sounds, it could have been much, much worse. One of the damaged buildings was West Intermediate School, which was located right next to the plant (see figure). If the explosion had occurred while school was in session, well - it is pretty horrible to think about what would have happened.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  -  click here for the photo source

In the year since the explosion there have been absolutely no changes in law or regulation to make another such accident less likely to occur.

The Center for Effective Government has created an interactive map that shows schools within one mile of a high-risk chemical facility. They combined data on chemical facilities from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Risk Management Program (RMP) and information on schools (elementary through high school) from the National Center for Education Statistics. (The data from the RMP is easier to access via http://www.rtknet.org/db/rmp)

You can look up the schools in your area to see what reporting facilities are nearby. Here is a clip of the image for the area around Buffalo, New York ...

The red circles are RMP facilities and the blue flags are schools. You can click on the icons to get more information about each site. The colored background gives you demographic information - the browns are at or below median income ($50,157) the lighter, the lower. The blues are above median income, the darker the higher. Totally unsurprisingly, the children in the lower income areas are the ones more at risk. 

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

I have just had a temporary attack of insanity and have signed up for Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-thon. I was behaving myself with the realization that I would not have the time and/or focus to do a Read-a-thon, much less one that can involve staying up for 24 hours, but this has been such a disappointing week that I lost my marbles and signed up this morning. Or at least I tried to, the linky stuff was all down. But, I am pretty sure that I am signed up now so I will be gearing myself up to do something readerly for as much of the 26th as I can.

My plan is to include the kids as much as possible - reading books to them, with them and probably getting something new for my son to read.  We might also spend part of the day hanging out at either the library or the bookstore.

So - FUN read-a-thon:

This will involve kids books like Half Upon a Time by James Riley
and graphic novels like Giants Beware by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
and if I am feeling really inspired I might read something grownup. 

This will also have to involve snacks! I am crossing my fingers and hoping that this works out. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lake Erie Ice Survey hopeful

Lake Erie ice cover image from 4-21-14, where you can actually see the water

On Wednesday the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District, (along with representatives from the power companies in New York and Ontario, and from Environment Canada) conducted an areal survey of the ice cover on the eastern end of Lake Erie. They specifically map the area located to the east of an imaginary line from Long Point in Canada to Erie, Pennsylvania. 

The results from the survey show the lake ice is still extensive, 399 square miles, but is decreasing so the ice boom might be removed next week.  Another survey will be conducted on Monday. The ice has to be down to 250 square miles for the boom to be removed.

Lake Erie Ice cover image from 4-23-14, where the cloud cover obscures things

Wondrous Words Wednesday 12

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!

Ugh. I am having a lousy day, so I want to do something fun for at least a little while. I don't have No Place for a Lady here, so I am going to fall back on something I previously read -  Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawkin.

This doesn't have anything to do with words but I really liked this quote from the book ...

"As Mary Oliver has commented, however, all of [Ralph Waldo] Emerson's wildness was in his head" 

One word that I have always liked the sound of is anathema, which means someone or something intensely disliked, loathed or abhorrent (technically it used to mean a ban or curse solemnly pronounced by ecclesiastical authority and accompanied by excommunication of the person or denunciation of a doctrine.) It just has such a good sound.

For example, when discussing the chemical industries response to Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring... 

"The admixture of fable and science enraged some scientists as well, but the qualities that made the book anathema to them made it engaging to the general public. Certainly the 'shadow of death' that caused children to die within hours was excessive, but the book was no jeremiad, and Carson's prediction as to the eventual outcome of the uncontrolled use of these chemicals could not have been more convincing." 

jeremiad - a long, mournful complaint or a lamentation 


"Today the term neo-Luddite has a negative connotation, and is used as a term of opprobrium for one who fears technology and innovation, implying that the original Luddites were an ignorant mob intent on quashing progress. This is an unfair characterization; Luddites were artisans, highly skilled workers steeped in craft traditions who took great pride in the textiles they produced."

opprobrium - [uh-proh-bree-uhm] (this one just does not roll off the tongue the same way that anathema does) - meaning disgrace or reproach incurred by conduct considered outrageously shameful; infamy; harsh criticism; public disgrace. 


"The cri de coeur of environmentalists in Carson's time was the same as that of the Lancashire weavers, the same in the time of Emerson, the same as in the time of 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai of Kenya. It can be summed up in a single word: life."

cri de coeur - French, literally, cry from the heart; a passionate outcry 

And for those who don't recognize the name ...  In 1977, Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental agency focused on planting trees, environmental conservation and women's rights. She was the first African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize and the first environmentalist to do so. She worked against the repressive government of former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, who called her "mad" and described her as a threat to Kenyan national security. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2011. Truly an amazing woman and a role-model. 

 Well - not my standard post, but hopefully interesting. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's Monday! What are You Reading? 4-21

It's Monday! What are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Happy (Belated) Easter !

Work has gotten completely overwhelming so I haven't been up to much reading for fun the past couple of weeks.

I only got a couple of reviews up last week
 Currently I am working on (ooh - not a good phrase but that is rather what it feels like) three books ...  

I plan to finish Packing for Mars this week. I have to admit that I have been rather stalled on this book - thinking too much about the nitty-gritty of the early space program is rather depressing me, since I used to dream of being an astronaut.

 I have also joined 2014 Classic YA/MG Challenge so I am re-reading Anne of Green Gables.  I am getting to one of the bits that is really sad, so I have stalled here too - but I need to finish the book for the April 25th discussion. 

Finally - I have been reading No Place for a Lady about women explorers/travelers in the 1800's - "those ladies who will travel where they have no business to travel, who will wear costumes which they have no business (in those latitudes) to wear; who will go 'unprotected;' who will choose their dragoman by physiognomy, as romance suggests, and not by advice of friends, as common sense would dictate." pg 7-8.

You can see a bit of the book in A peak into No Place for a Lady and my Wondrous Words Wednesday 11 post last week.

On the environmental front we have ...

Happy (Belated) Easter !

Friday, April 18, 2014

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke - mini review

Zita the Spacegirl: Far from Home 
by Ben Hatke

Published: First Second
Format: paperback
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 192
Genre: Graphic Novel
Source: personal copy

Zita is a born button-pusher. This time, however,  pushing the button results in her best friend being abducted by an alien. Zita goes to the rescue, braving aliens of all shapes and sizes like humanoid chickens, Jerry in the pipe, and bombastic robots.

I don't want to give away too much since the plot in this lovely little books is quite well done. Much of the action is visual so it would probably be better to simply watch the video First Second put up ... (which, inexplicably, I can't get to embed, so here is the link)

Since the book showed up in the mail yesterday, my daughter spent around 40 minutes 'reading' it to herself (she is six and learning to read), asked me to read it to her again, has taken it to grandma's house to share with grandma and made me promise to read it again to her tonight. Pretty clearly, as far as my little leopard is concerned, this is a five claw book.

I agree - we both decided that we need the next book in the series now. If you have a young daughter, we both recommend this graphic novel.

A peak into No Place for a Lady

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader.

I started No Place for a Lady by Barbara Hodgson, a nonfiction book about women travelers in the 1800s. I haven't be able to read much - this has been a very busy week - but so far it has been interesting.
The rumble of hooves echoed across the desert long before the horses and their riders materialized, heightening an already palpable excitement. Rumors had been circulating in Palmyra for days that a caravan would be coming from Damascus, bringing a most unusual visitor. As the Palmyrans turned their darkly tanned faces towards the hills to the west, a cry rang out; someone had spotted distant figures. Responding as though to a signal, hundreds of men leapt onto their horses and, brandishing swords, raced through the ruins of Zenobia's fabled city to meet the new arrivals.

Zenobia ? Ah - Zenobia was a 3rd-century Queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria, who led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire.

For The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice here is something from page 56 ... 

The first woman to reveal the secrets of the harem to the West was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, whose travels took her to Turkey in 1717 with her husband, ambassador Edward Wortley Montagu. Her account, in the form of letters, was first circulated in 1725. Filled with scandalous tales of her visits to harems and baths in Adrianople (Edirne) and Constantinople, the letters were daring not only because they were the first believable descriptions of such places but also because they elaborated on the state of voluptuousness found therein.   

Lady Montagu in Turkish dress by Jean-Étienne Liotard,
ca. 1756, Palace on the Water in Warsaw