Sunday, April 30, 2006

Catholic School Memories And Other Shopping Woes

5:40 p.m. / 17:40

I hate shopping for pants to wear to work. The "hottest styles" rarely look good on me, so it's hard to find a pair of pants that I actually like, that look good on me, and are not just plain and boring. In February I found a great pair of pants that I can wear to work at Kohl's. I went back today hoping to get a second pair in another color, and of course they didn't have any anymore. Well, they had few pairs, marked down even, but only one pair was not brown (the color I already have) and it was a size too small.

I grabbed a pair of olive Lee twills or whatever they're called. They're sort of a basic, almost-but-not-quite stylish stand-by sort of thing that Kohl's has had as long as I've needed pants for work in colors other than white (yes, at my first job, I had to wear white pants, of all things). I had been prepared to pay $25 - $30 for the pair of pants I wanted, but I didn't know how I felt about paying $25 for a pair of pants I only sort of kind of liked, that were exactly like a pair I already owned in khaki that, again, I only sort of kind of liked. Besides, they were olive and most of what I own that I would wear with olive is the same as what I would wear with my brown pants, so I wasn't sure this was really going to help my wardrobe problems. I wandered around the store vaguely intending to find a shirt that would go great with olive as a way to justify the olive pants I only sort of wanted in the first place. I found a couple of blouses I really liked, but they didn't really look that good with olive... what they'd look good with, I thought, was blue.

I tend to be drawn towards shirts that look good with blue jeans, even if I'm shopping for work, where I can't wear blue jeans. I remembered how my mom always suggested buying navy pants, because they look good with some of the same things that blue jeans look good with. I've always resisted navy pants, especially really ordinary navy pants. Why? Because I went to a Catholic school where I wore nothing but navy pants for four years. I could have worn plaid skirts, but when my mom stopped letting me wear shorts under them, I decided they were too much trouble and gave them up. Well, it's been eleven years now since I graduated 8th grade, and I decided it was time to get over this old annoyance. I bought a plain, boring pair of navy blue pants today. They're not exciting, but they do actually add variety to my work wardrobe, and my mom is right about a lot of my shirts looking good with them.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Guns, Psychos, Romance, Etc.

10:50 p.m. / 22:50

I just recently breezed through Jennifer Crusie's new book, which was actually co-written with Bob Mayer, called Don't Look Down. It wasn't as good as Welcome to Temptation and Faking It, but it was good.

Lucy Armstrong and J.T. Wilder were good characters, but my favorites were a five year old girl named Pepper and an ever-present one-eyed mama alligator they called Moot (Moot was not a speaking character). Tyler (a.k.a the ghost) was interesting too, although he was nuts-- and absolutely not in a good way, more of a killing-people-for-fun way.

Lucy was a Kirsty MacColl fan. Now, this might not have a lot of meaning to you, but it was exciting to me, because I have only recently discovered Kirsty MacColl, and it appears that there are a whole lot of people who still have not. (I'm listening to The Best of Kirsty MacColl while I write this.)

The military parts of this book (Bob Mayer's contribution, I think) were okay until the end. The end was very tense and violent, and the book ended almost immediately after the last bad guy was beat. An epilogue or something like that would have been nice.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Melanie Rehak And The Mystery Of Carolyn Keene

11:27 p.m. / 23:27

I recently finished reading Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak, further proving that I do read non-fiction from time to time. I read enough Nancy Drew Mysteries around the ages of 12 and 13, that the story of how Nancy came to be, who Carolyn Keene was and why Nancy had remained so popular was something I was excited to learn more about. Really, though it was interesting, it was rarely exciting. I'm glad I took the time to read the book; it was worth it. I guess I had just hoped for too much. My favorite things about the book are that it really does totally clear up all of the mystery about who Carolyn Keene was, and the fact that it was clearly well-researched. I'll never look at a Nancy Drew now and not think about this book too.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Rodent Reading

11:45 p.m. / 23:45

I have recently read a series of kids' books about a hamster named Freddy. They are I, Freddy, Freddy In Peril & Freddy To the Rescue; all by Dietlof Reiche (translated from German by John Brownjohn, illustrated by Joe Cepeda). These are fairly charming, easy reads. I have had two different pet hamsters myself, and for the most part, I find the basic information given about hamsters to be pretty accurate. Yet, I must say, these books also require a hefty dose of Willing Suspension of Disbelief. In addition to Freddy, these books also feature a cat named Sir William and two guinea pigs named Enrico and Caruso, plus a few supporting humans, including their master, Mr. John and a little girl named Sophie. I don't really recommend that adults read all three books in a row. All of the characters are relatively flat, and this lack of any real change can get tiring after awhile. The third book should have been really engrossing because it had some environmental stuff in it, but mostly I kept thinking I needed a break from Freddy. I am sure, though, that if a fourth book is written in this series, I will find it and read it.


A Note On Comments

9:10 p.m. / 21:10

I have started responding to comments, occasionally, when I feel like it, so if you leave a comment, you might want to check back later. Or not. Whatever.

Random Other Stuff

2:22 a.m. / 02:22

As I type this, I sit surrounded by cookbooks, most of which are, of course vegetarian. I have been working on a compilation of recipes to be kept in a binder for future use. I was always impressed by the genius of the original Betty Crocker cookbook being in a binder format, so that recipes could be added to it. The way I'm setting up my binder, if I try a recipe and don't like it, I can take it out. In theory, this will eventually result in a collection of tried and trusted recipes.

I made my first ever rubber band ball at work last week. It is now here at home with me, where I have colored it with Sharpie markers. It needs another layer or two of rubber bands, and then I think it will be done. Inside, there are a few hidden features, such as paper clips and a small cross someone found in a drawer.

I have checked out a few CDs at work in the past couple of days, because I felt like trying something new, or at least sort of new. In the car I have been listening to a CD made from when Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson did VH1 Storytellers. Tonight I have listened to the Best of Kirsty MacColl and another album by The Pogues. I would like to hear more of both of these two, but I think this might be the best I can do without spending a lot of money ordering things off of the internet.

My job situation continues to confound me. On Monday a friend called from South Carolina to ask me how to mail a postcard, but eventually managed to to give me a somewhat warranted lecture on the state of my career. Hmm... it's her birthday today... Happy Birthday to the coolest teacher in Charleston!

I've been neglecting my crochet and sketchbooks. This is probably because I haven't been watching so many movies as I was a few weeks ago. I really shouldn't draw while watching movies anyway, though. Well, at least, I should not limit myself to drawing while watching movies. Nothing really great can come of that.

I have been reminded this week that anyone who has not read a collection of cartoons by Chas Addams should rush right out and do so immediately.

Random Old Paintings

12:01 a.m. / 00:01

Have you ever noticed that a lot of new or newer editions of classics have random paintings on the covers that have little to do with the story in the book?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

On My Bookshelf, Plus Ramona Quimby

11:43 p.m. / 23:43

I just noticed that on my bookshelf there is a place where children's books gather, even though all of the books are shelved in alphabetical order by author, and my adult books are mixed with the kids books. There are seven children's books by four authors all together in one spot, though, because I don't have any adult books that interrupt Beverly Cleary, Andrew Clements, Karen Cushman and Roald Dahl.

Mentioning Beverly Cleary just now reminded me that a couple of months ago, I read the newest Ramona book, called Ramona's World, and forgot to mention it. When I was about 6 and 7 years old, nothing was more exciting than a Ramona book. Beverly Cleary was my first "favorite author". I think at one time or another during those years someone (Mom or a teacher) read all of the available Ramona books to me. I might have even read one or two of them by myself. I was really curious when I discovered that an all-new Ramona book had been published around the time I graduated from high school. It had been a long time, but I found Ramona to be pretty much as I remembered her to be, and it was nice to read about her day-to-day adventures again.

Really Old Chick-Lit (Ahh... Still Fresh!)

12:13 a.m. / 00:13

Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice has kept well over the last 195 (give or take one) years. I am more wary of pre-20th century classics than I would like to admit as an educated reader. Pride & Prejudice turned out to be well worth my attention.

I was surprised by just how likeable Elizabeth Bennet was, and how quickly I came to understand her world and her position in it. Elizabeth (or Lizzy) is a very multi-dimensional lady with a good mind of her own. Her mother is comicly frustrating, and her father is very strange, but also very loving, especially of Elizabeth. I was slow in understanding Mr. Darcy, but then so was Elizabeth. Mr. Collins' paragraphs are rather tiring, but he can be simultaneously amusing. Miss Jane Bennet is often the sugar to counter her sister Lizzy's spice.

Since I know no women who have only the goal of marriage on their minds, and several for whom it is not necessarily a goal at all, I was skeptical of a story all about a girl (Elizabeth), her four sisters (Jane, Mary, Kitty & Lydia-- no brothers) and her mother's obsession with marrying them off. Well, that appears to be the point of the story at first, anyway, but it soon turns out that it is really about being blinded by (Oh, guess!) PRIDE and PREJUDICE. According to the information in the front of my copy, the original manuscript that Jane Austen wrote for this book was titled First Impressions, and there are certainly lessons to be learned here about first impressions.

I realize some people might find it offensive that I have labeled such a classic as "chick-lit", but I will not apologize. Honestly, I feel that Pride & Prejudice would appeal to very much the same sort of reader that enjoys intelligent, witty modern chick-lit.


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