The View from my Window

Yeah, yeah, still with the infection-sweating-fever thing, but THIS is the view I have from my window. This bird is a woodpecker, and I’d have to have a better view of him to identify him, since he wasn’t very cooperative. But isn’t his “hair” great?

Books like The Knife of Never Letting Go, according to the UK rag (and believe me, it’s considered inflamnatory Enquirer-like trash by most people with whom I’ve spoken) The Daily Mail are “so violent they need a health warning”, according to Dr Rona Tutt. Author snipes back, in The Guardian, and the fun continues.

The most fun is that I just got this in the mail (THANK YOU Colleen!!) and am going to sit down and read it. Sans health warnings. So there.

Ooh — THIS JUST IN!!! Are you a fan of Alan Gratz and the Something Rotten / Something Wicked Horatio books? Ally Carter (she of awesome spy book fame) is having a live chat with Mr. Gratz tonight at eight p.m., Eastern time and everyone is invited to come along and chat with.

Here’s the dirt: Ally Chat
Tuesday, December 30th
8:00 eastern/ 7:00 central

The chat room will be located here.

The password will be ROTTEN, and won’t work until a quarter ’til — and after the chat, the password is expired.

The glorious weather continues to taunt me. Robin’s going camping for New Year’s. I’m. So. Jealous. Hope everyone else has fun plans. *sob* I’ll just be here… coughing… on my bed of sickness…

Sniffle! Hack!

Oh, don’t mind me and my sinus infection, and my fuzzy brain. I’ll just lie here and cough. I WOULD be outside enjoying the sunshine, but NO, my body rebelled about sitting in a plane for ten hours.

dramatic sigh.

One of the things I learned during my MFA program — almost incidentally — is that YA and children’s literature rarely has “ripped from the headlines” books. Almost any garishly spotlighted, sensational murder trial has an immediate companion novel from the point of view of the lawyer, the jury, the victim’s sister — but blessedly, that trend hasn’t yet blighted children’s lit. We tend to stay, on average, ten years behind the curve. Think about the fuss over the penguin picture book. Alternative families are nothing new, by far, but perhaps they became more commonplace during the nineties? I find the whole thing intriguing, from a sociological standpoint.

Thus, it is with real interest that I find that the first Katrina books — which started to come out in 2005 — are gaining momentum. Nonfiction seems always to be the first treatment in children’s books about factual events — Katrina was a meteorological event, after all, and it’s always helpful to talk about weather and storms. The next explorations tend to be about animals — the tsunami animals come to mind as a story that spread and spread and eventually became a book.

What I’m not seeing much of yet are the books about the human side of the equation, about the fact that a city in one of our fifty states was allowed to treat its people like refuse washed up after a storm, allowed them to starve or drown or be abandoned to die. There are a couple of MG titles I’ve run across — 2007 was a good year for those — but YA seems to be silent.

Are there few or no books for young adults because the adults still aren’t sure how it could have happened?

Has anyone else noticed this trend — the lag behind actual events, and the lack of reading material for older readers? This is just something random that jumped into my mind.

Has anyone else seen Valentine’s decorations up in stores already? Anyone else moved to violence over it? Just me? Sigh. Blame the sinus infection…

PSST! Farida, the people have spoken, and the people want flower fairies. I can’t hide your identity for much longer…

Christmas at Hypocrite House


Confidential to the Progenitor:



RE: You

The religious programming ’round the clock is not working, just so you know.

If it’s meant to sweeten your temperament and sanctify your speech, it’s just not happening. Somehow, you’re still a right thorough-going midden even with all the Jesus-y gilding.

You should know I waited awhile to say this. I thought about it, and kept trying to rationalize …reasons, but the fact is, I don’t get you, and God knows you don’t try and get me. It’s not that I expected, even now, to be “gotten;” it’s just that I’m here, aren’t I? Wouldn’t you think that after all this time that would be reason enough to at least make an attempt to pretend toward some kind of courtesy? Scotland is five thousand miles away. Do you seriously think I came this far just to be treated with sour looks and obliquely unwelcoming statements, insults and muttered-under-the-breath asides?

Maybe worse than all of your sneering superiority is who I become when I am with you. I do not like this person at all, who checks and double checks herself, who finds herself silently scrubbing in the kitchen, flinching, while you shout down the house because you can’t find something, or a dish is out of place, who feels her stomach cramp and says nothing, but serves the meals and washes the dishes and keeps cautioning herself not to overreact. I turn into some kind of little wifey when I’m here, cringing and mealy-mouthed and apologetic. That’s reason enough to pack my things now. But there’s the siblings to think of, not to mention your lady wife. And it’s Christmas Eve…

What kills me is that religion — Christianity — is alleged to support the idea of tolerance. You, being Super Christian as you are, have made tolerance an art form. For myself, I’m frankly quite tired of being tolerated. Your children you are called on to love, which is just a little more work. You can take your tolerance and keep it someplace cramped, tiny and dark — possibly your heart.

Just eight short days under your roof has reaffirmed for me the reasons I moved out, lock, stock and badly dented footlocker, when I was sixteen. Do enjoy Christmas. And realize I’m doing the same moving thing — minus the dents in my luggage — as soon as decently possible.

We can all just stop pretending now. Permanently.

With regrets to your good wife, whom you don’t deserve — I am,

           Already Gone

On, Dizzy, On, Dumpy! On, Groggy and Grumpy!

Did I just hear the Grinch’s reindeer?

The Festival of Festivus wheezes and moans its way into the world ‘o’ blogs today. Billed as the “holiday for the rest of us” it’s apparently a Seinfeld-esque day in which people tell each other how much they’ve disappointed each other throughout the year. And then they have contests of …strength?

Well, I can’t say I really ever “got” Seinfeld, but I do know this telling-family-members-how-disappointing-they-are sounds like a bad outing with certain family members, so while I’m visiting them, I’m going to have to suck up my Grinch-ing, and pass on talking about mi familia loca, or doing any gratuitous arm-wrestling. If *you,* however, have any gripes about your family or life or the season, (or if you live in Portland and aren’t Nordic) definitely get over there and join in the merriment. Misery loves company, after all, and maybe after you complain, you’ll be able to go back and be civil in company. Unless you work in retail…

Just one more day, and you’ll be able to kick back and relax. By doing what? Sara wants to know. I’d like to add to that question — how do you celebrate personal accomplishment? Do you invite over friends, or have a solo celebration on your own? Many people neither know how to relax or to celebrate… Something to ponder.

Publishers kind of hibernate this week ’til the second week of January, and writers …well, we’re spending our time realizing how much seventeen year old boys and a family of nine eat (how, how did I end up doing so much cooking? Was it the recipes in the novel???), and feel like they’re sitting around in a jet-lag induced haze, or feeding the five thousand, who seem to need snacks in between hands of canasta and to eat ’round the clock. More coherent posts will be on tap after the weekend, I’m sure, once I’ve shrugged off the KP duties and hidden in a back room with my laptop! (Happy Hols to all my fellow Violets who are hanging in along with. Courage!…)

Great gift ideas and book suggestions are still pouring in, for those of you who, like me, aren’t done shopping, and won’t be until the 12th Day of Christmas (which is after The Epiphany, which is the realization that Dec. 25 is an artificial deadline, and including post-Christmas shopping makes the fun last longer). Check out the usual suspects — Chasing Ray and Mother Reader. More anon!

Back Where I Left My Heart

On a personal note:
Home is where there are mugs that hold three quarters of liter of tea… Where there’s football on the TV all day Sunday (fortunately confined to a back bedroom), and you realize that you’re tuning everything out but the sound of the penalty whistles and your brother’s occasional shouts of “Nooo!” (The Niners are playing. Sigh.) Home is where you arrive, disheveled and lugging suitcases and no one comments that you probably need a bath. Your Mom hugs you anyway. Whether you want her to or not.

Home is where you’re really glad the Shrinking Violets are sending you ear plugs.

So far, holiday shopping is actually not bad, much better than expected. The parking lot was a little crazy at the bookstore today, but people were handing out cookies, and no one was throwing elbows or screeching. That’s the benefit of buying people books for Christmas — no toy aisles.

Thus Far: ~I’ve gotten Diary of a Wimpy Kid and its sequel, Roderick Rules and Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! already in the bag from ten minutes just ghosting through a nearby bookstore. Tomorrow I’m going to do The Serious Shopping first thing in the morning, and see how far I get. Still a seventeen year old sports nut to find a book for, an almost-two year old (and thanks to everyone for the great suggestions for him) and a twelve year old girl. Plus the older sibs, and the ‘rents, but I think they’ll probably be pretty easy.

Since I’ve only been in the U.S. since Friday afternoon and I’ve a.) been to the symphony b.) been to a choir show, c.) been to a Christmas brunch, d.) been shopping and e.) helped my Mom crash a wedding, I think I need a nap. Now.

According to NPR, James Thurbers’ Thirteen Clocks is back in print. I’ve never had the pleasure of reading, but it’s apparently pure, classic Thurber, in a The Princess Bride meets Fractured Fairy Tales type of way. Sounds like fun. Meanwhile, a special Christmas treat comes from Gregory MacGuire, of Wicked fame; on Christmas Day, he’ll be reading an original Christmas story on All Things Considered. That’s worth sitting quietly for!

Yep – this picture is of the SF City Hall. Nope, I don’t live in SF, but this building has my birth certificate on file.