Friday, March 28, 2014

March 28: Catching Up!

The Art of FieldingThe Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. The first third of this book is written in almost flawlessly beautiful prose. After that, the plot gets a tad loose and the sustained brilliance gets muted, but I *loved* this book. Harbach captures a sense of sprawling greatness that somehow echoes Melville; his characters are human and sympathetic (though I have to say I found his women a bit indistinct, and the whole sex thing--really? necessary? realistic? Hmmmmm.), and the whole book remains securely in my head, despite the three busy weeks that have intervened. I have marked numerous passages, but am too lazy to get up and dig up the book right now--still: read the book. Enjoy it. Wow. The Lilac BusThe Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So, trying to recover from my "book hangover" after Art of Fielding, I dug up this little gem (free book bin at church). I enjoyed the first bit okay, though it was the predictable varied narrator schtick that Binchy has done to death; then, without a clear indication that this was a NEW STORY AND NOT MERELY A NEW CHAPTER, the book went onto another track. I read on, thinking it was another switched narrator. . . . but my! what a boring story. . . . and then ANOTHER. . . whereupon I figured out that my edition had four or so stories wedged into the same edition, and yes, indeed, the varied stories of the Lilac Bus riders had merged into the story of the lyin' cheatin' husband and whatever the heck else.

Sorry, Maeve Binchy: when your story-lines are so muddled that a professional reader can be led wrong like that, you have some issues--and a low rating on the story. A Blunt Instrument (Inspector Hannasyde, #4)A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This isn't the edition that I got for 25 cents at our Library book sale; it was a book on tape (yes, on tape!) from the mid-80's, and I kept listening to it mostly to see if indeed I had figured it out in the first fifteen minutes (ie, 1/2 way through the first chapter)--and I had, though it took Heyer until the 12 side of the tape to reveal that fact. Yikes. Also, the main ? character was so annoying that I wished someone would kill him--I think she was aiming for likably zany, but she missed that and hit annoyingly annoying square on.

So: for 25 cents, not so bad, but certainly NOT a relisten! How to Be SingleHow to Be Single by Liz Tuccillo
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Oh, the nefarious misleadingness of lovely cover art! I WANT that dress, and I'd LOVE that weather, so I bought this book (second hand for 50 cents, hooray) and . . . .


The book doesn't even deserve to be an article in Cosmo: it's dumb. Women are single for many reasons.
It can be hard to be single. It can also be hard to be married. Some men are dumb. Some women are dumb. People in different countries are different in some ways, but, essentially, people are similar. Some are married. Some are single. Some get divorced. Women are single for many reasons. . . . .REPEAT.

'Nuff said. Now, get me a nice photo and we're all set.

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 Wow, this has been a month! I just got back from a terrific two day conference on Professional Learning Communities at the Samoset with the newly-formed 9th grade team: what an inspiring, hopeful, fun, exciting, scary, fun, exciting. . . time! We did a lot of bonding, and learned a lot, and I don't think I've ever faced such a clearly delineated challenge with so much support in my entire professional life.

And, we had another snow day (this makes 6: hello, June 25!), followed today by warmth and rain, which has me feeling springy and happy. Tomorrow is Nate's big show choir day, and Sunday I will take Pelle to Augusta to catch the bus and Camilla and I will shop for a prom dress for her. Such firsts.

In the mean time, I am probably heading to bed soon. It was a great experience, but, man, am I tired!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22: Happy Birthday, Sister Ann!

Wow. March Madness arises every year, without fail, and I am slowly learning to just let it wash over me, trusting that April is coming along eventually. Wow, I say. Wow.

This week featured:
Monday night incoming 9th grader night at the high school, so I was there from 7:20 am- 8:30 pm.
Tuesday: a busy day capped by a hair cut (yay!).
Wednesday: continued planning for Camilla's 18th on Thursday; a busy day at school.
Thursday: Parent meeting at 7:30, an absent co-teacher so I taught the foreign policy paper, many questions/meetings/people to deal with; home at 4, off to Bangor for Cam's b'day dinner at 6, home at 9:30
Friday: leave house at 6:45 am, parent meeting at 7:30, no co-teacher again, teaching for. pol. again, day of meetings, spec. ed. conf. at 1:30, meeting with carful of Cam and friend at 3, off to the Island again without actually arriving at home, drive BACK to Bar Harbor to drop C and friends at movie place, then Andy and I did a fun "five hours on MDI" afternoon featuring book browsing, apps/drinks at Pat's, a drive around the lower island, dinner at Mamma DiMatteo's, then picking up Cam and two OTHER friends to come home for the night. HOME at 8:45ish. Have to say I enjoyed the evening especially, but was a tad chippy when at 12:30 their noise woke me up!

So. You know you're busy when someone says, "I'll just fill you in on the details while you eat your lunch." And you are pulling the plastic tub out of the microwave. Standing up. And it's leftovers from the day before. Which you haven't even taken home. And you have ten minutes.

That long whinge (as the Brits say; love that onomatopoetic effect) over, here are 10 things that make me happy, pictures to be added later.

1. lush spring sunshine.

2. strong coffee, made just as I like it.
3. making things that are bright and beautiful and just as *I* say they should be.

4. flowers, especially amaryllis at this stage of the year.

5. our crazy household of animals.
6. birds at the bird feeder.
7. running outside.
8. realizing how gorgeous a place I live in.
9. tucking a small enjoyable event into a busy day.
10. baking delicious things for people who appreciate them.


Theme for the week: 
"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to 
work hard at work worth doing."              Teddy Roosevelt

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March 15: The Ides of, Indeed!

Well. Quite a week. Snow day on Thursday, and bitter (-3) temps on Friday. Parent conferences on Friday. In-coming 9th grader night on Thursday postponed to Monday the 17th (oy). . . Andy gone to Mom's for the week to work for her, and Camilla gone to Hawaii and a lovely (it looks like) time there, start to finish. Both will return on Sunday, with Andy coming home via Bangor to meet Cam's bus and bring her home. Last night Nate and I had a lovely time at the Cellar, the new restaurant in Ellsworth, though the service was slow/uneven; we did a nice job of holding down the fort as far as animals, snow maintenance, and general life are concerned.

Today is rainy and warmish; the roads are pretty nasty but I am hoping to fit in a fairly early and longish run so that I can clean up and do some birthday errands down town and then actually make something: perhaps a table runner? I just would like to do something creative and bright. My Lent mantra says it needs to be cheap, so I may see if I can dig up the bits I had cut out long ago. . . but I also think two yards of pretty bright fabric from Marden's isn't a deal breaker. We'll see.

I think that this woman's definition of "easy" and mine might be a ways apart. . . . this is LOVELY! That's a pic. from a Craftsy class (Scrappy Patchwork Table Runner pattern by A Quilted Life Patterns)
Let's see what else is out there. 

(Pause while I google a bit. Yikes. How much time do I want to spend? "And at my back I always hear / Time's winged chariot hurrying near. . .")

Well. Much of what's out there is WAYYYYYY too fussy for me. I guess I will head to the cellar to dig out the simple but stunning table runner Vicky Beal made for us 20 years ago. 

Long pause again. . . and HERE it is! 

I am pretty sure that somewhere in my "craft closet" (aka, "my closet"), I have squares cut out for that. I would like to make it a little narrower, and perhaps a little shorter, but if I came out with a non-Christmasy one exactly like that one, I wouldn't be sorry. So. Here I go for more digging. 

Oh, and I wouldn't be averse to suddenly having a lovely warm but bright skirt fall into my lap, either. Hmmmmmmm. 

Less, Rebecca. Less. 

Okay!  It's 10:15 pm and. . . . 

If I had three more hours, I bet I could finish it tonight! 

Maybe I'll get it done tomorrow. Fun! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March 9: Eastern Standard Time Re-entry Weekend!

Back from a spectacularly fun three day trip to Quebec City and environs with a wonderful group of MDIHS kids and chaperones. Quebec is a fun, accessible, friendly city; we were outside a lot in the gorgeous pouring sunshine, which reminded me that getting outside in the winter doesn't have to be just about running; the kids were friendly, enthusiastic, and appreciative; the weather was stunning; the other adults were some of my closest friends anyway; speaking and hearing French so much was fun too. Wow. What a great experience.

AND Cam has headed to Hawaii for a week; Nate won All-Festival Honors for his role as Odysseus in the EHS play, which Andy had a chance to see. . . . what a nice time!

Goal for next winter: two specific outings for Outdoor Fun. Tubing, skiing, snow-shoeing, skating. . . doesn't matter. I just want to do it.

AND: Andy made our reservations for Italy. We're going to Florence!


Saturday, March 1, 2014


Oh, wait: March in Maine. . . . we're not there yet. But still: the sunshine this morning, when I rolled out of bed at the advanced hour of EIGHT a.m., was lush and welcome, and then the snow-globe snow flakes we enjoyed during a walk and during my run were lovely as well. So: we'll take it. March will include my trip to Quebec as chaperone with MDIHS's French trip; Camilla's trip to Hawaii and her 18th birthday; Julie's and Ann's b'days as well; Nate's show choir, jazz choir, and one-act championships; parent conferences and incoming-student night and the first meeting of the new ninth grade teaching team at MDIHS--wow. I'd also like to fit in a dinner party for some adults! So it's good that March has a husky 31 days in it. ONWARDS!

Sand Sharks (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #15)Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maron writes smoothly and pleasantly; the plot of this entry in the Deborah Knott series runs secondary to the description of relationships, locale, and food. She's a reliable and amiable writer.

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So, and. . .  I am making my variation of local baker Lorena Staples's Double Chocolate Dream Cookies. Says it makes around 30 but we get a lot more.

1 cup butter
1.5 c br sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
            Cream that all together. When it's smooth, beat in two eggs.

Then, in a separate bowl, mix 2 3/4 c. flour, 1/2 cup unsw. cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt. Mix that into the butter/egg/sugar mixture (gotta love that Kitchen Aid!). While that's mixing, measure out 2 cups choc. chips (I am using white chocolate ones this time around because we have some that have been on hand for a long time), a cup of chopped nuts if you want (I am using pecans, because why not?), and about 3/4 c. sweetened coconut flakes (also if you want)--at this point, you will really love your Kitchen Aid, but it will not love you.

Heat the oven to 350ish and then make small balls or larger patties and bake for about 12 - 16 mins, till somewhat dry on top.

Yumbo. Will post pic if I remember.