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summer classics query

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Monday, May 28, 2012
I'm trying to work some classics into my reading rotation. For example, this year I read Great Expectations over Christmas/New Year. (two thumbs up!) Last year it was Jane Eyre. (Rochester = creepy, crazy, compelling. Jane E(ponymous) = speaks her mind and is awesome.)  I think I might try to slip a classic into my summer reading pile. Which one should I read first? Is there one you'd recommend above the others? Another title that you would recommend instead?

1.  Northanger Abbey, by Jane A.  -  the only one of her major novels I've never read! I understand it's  a gothic parody, if not the first gothic parody.

2. Moby-Dick, by Herman M. -  I've read probably the first third/three-eighths, but it was a couple of years ago now. I was quite enjoying it, but it grew easier and easier to not pick it up again. I would probably start again at the beginning, but this time persevere! (I might skip the cataloging of whales.)

3. The Woman in White by Wilkie C.  - I've been wanting to read this for ages!  I'm not sure why since I'm unclear on what it's about (women? dresses? ghosts? brides? ghost brides?) except that it might be vaguely spooky? Oooh - the first paragraph of wikipedia (I dare not read more) tells me that it is among the first mystery novels and it was serialized and epistolary. Every time I hear the title, it makes me think of this act of unforgivable cheesiness that you will now be thinking about ALL DAY LONG (fair warning) because it is insidious and full of malicious hidden brain traps if you've ever watched Top Gun*; before you know it you'll be all "HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE" as the soundtrack continues to play in your head. (or maybe that's just what happened to me.) But you know, maybe that's what Wilkie C. had in mind. Maybe he visited a medium --v. popular in victorian times -- and she told him all about the lady in red and Top Cruise but he thought that might be a little vulgar for a novel cover so he changed it to the woman in white for aesthetic reasons. (Is that TWiW's secret???)

*rudimentary fact checking tells me that this song was NOT in Top Gun, but I am far too attached to my vision of Wilkie Collins looking into a crystal ball and seeing Tom Cruise in his aviator glasses to correct it. But now you can think of the improved yet similar this and send yourself to the DANGER ZONE. (or maybe your brain will slide right over to Footloose. I don't know what happens in there.)

Seriously, though! What should I read? Have you read any of these? Did you like it?

Did Wilkie Collins see this vision of the future? Did it frighten him? 

poppies, vampire shower advice

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
pink poppy
with poison in it, but attractive to the eye

poppies.... POPPIES!!!! So says the Wicked Witch of the West. She's right about the attractive to the eye part. Maybe right about the poison part, too! But I have to say there are hundreds of poppies in the garden right now and walking out there doesn't make me fall asleep until it snows. (at least it hasn't yet.)
This poppy on the top is a different (fancier) variety, but the two below are bee-yootiful garden bullies that grow everywhere and make a huge mess but WHO CARES because they are awesome.

orange poppy
This morning in the shower I had a whole conversation with myself (aloud). Standard stuff, right??? Then, for some reason, one half of the conversation (still all me) started talking with this weird transylvanian/chef boyardee accent. PERFECTLY NORMAL. Then this voice informed me that it was a vampire with some ADVICE and OPINIONS. [side note: this talking in the shower business all started because I read something that reminded me of regional accent differences - like how someone from New England will pronounce the words Mary, Merry, and Marry all differently, whereas someone who talks like I do when I'm not talking like Count Boyardee says them pretty close to the same. I was testing the pronunciation and it all got away from me - which is, I'm sure, what they all say.]

Anyway, I assume the vampire business is because I'm reading a book with some vampires in it (the 3rd Parasol Protectorate book) and not because there's an advice giving vampire in my mind yearning to breathe free. The important thing here, besides how this is not at all crazy, is that shower Count Boyardee started quizzing me about my creative intentions and how it's all well and good to SAY you're going to do that thing you said you'd do, but unless you actually do it, it means nothing. ARGH! Shut up, fake shower vampire! I know this, but it's pretty obvious I don't think I know it, or I wouldn't bother to tell myself with a comedy accent.

(the Advice: do it now and then you can do something else, and then something else after that! the Opinion:  stop procrastinating like I always do.)  So thanks, Count Boyardee! Maybe we'll meet again.

orange poppy
So stinking beautiful! The petals look like tissue.

shaped like a hat

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Thursday, May 17, 2012
hornet's nest?
I found this (wasp? hornet?) nest out in the garden the other day. It was built on the edge of a dried foxglove stalk.

hornet's nest?
Fortunately, nobody was home! (When I was 11 or 12 I got my whole hand stung after uttering the fateful words "hey, what's this?" while picking up/poking a (much bigger) wasp's nest.)

I just think they look so cool! What determines the shape, I wonder? Is the lip around the edge a gutter system? windbreak? individual wasp-builder flair? just because it looks cool?

In non-habitat for hornet news, I love this lip dub of What Makes You Beautiful by the cast of Anything Goes!  I love the goofing around, the fun, the backstage shenanigans, the fabulous 30s costumes, and the way it all makes me happy.

less than twenty dollars

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Since I (finally) have the pictures ready let's take a look at my Friends of the Library book sale FINDS:

book sale bounty

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson - have you read this book? If you like mysteries, you should! It's so good and twisty and interconnected. (And the first of a series.)  Atkinson's such a good writer and she  lets the readers figure things out - one of my favorite moments in this book was when I put something together that the detective (Jackson Brodie) never discovered. I think that's hard to pull off from a writing standpoint, but it's so satisfying to the reader!

BBC recently did a very good Case Histories series starring Jason Isaacs (currently the lead of the NBC series Awake, which is interesting, well done, and sadly cancelled).  Read the books first, if you can! (But I believe the books would still be a pleasure if you happened to see the show first.)

Animals of the Seashore - Look at the cover and spine illustrations! how great are those? I saw that swirly spine and reached over another lady to grab it up. (she was looking at something else, it's not like I snatched it out of her hand.)

Charlie All Night by Jennifer Crusie -  Love her!  I think this is one set in a radio station? I'm pretty sure I've read it before, but I didn't have a copy. I'm not a huge fan mass market paperbacks (they don't last, the pages fall out, etc.) but if it's an author or title I particularly like, I'll grab it up and then pass it along when I find a binding I like better.

Golden Guide to Trees of North America - I love these Golden Nature guides and pick them up when I see them.  TREEEEEES, many illustrations of trees!

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters - this is one of her more recent Amelia Peabody books (featuring Victorian lady adventures in Egyptian archaeology). I haven't read most of this series and this book is no exception. However, I do love (and collect) some of her other series, so I decided to start collecting the Peabody books as well. One day I'll have a beach house, and that beach house will need books!

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke - I have this in paperback and have yet to read it. This hardcover was in such great shape (and has such an attractive spine!) I decided that a duplicate at $2 was a worthy expense.

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan - this was one of the few books over $2 that I picked up. (It was $5.) But it's a nice tight hardcover and I did enjoy this book. I would really like to find a nice copy of Second Nature, though.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn - First in the Lady Julia series, which I have been enjoying so much! This book is in near perfect condition and would make a nice gift if I don't keep it myself. I wish they'd published all of them in hardback, but I think the rest came out in headless victorian bosom covered trade paper.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters - I haven't read this since it was released, but my recollection of reading is one of staying up waaaay too late because my eyes were too wide with surprise to shut and the pages compulsively turned themselves as I read my way though plot twist after plot twist down narrow Victorian streets. Here's a sentence from the goodreads description: But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.  Thrills and reversals!

book sale bounty

The covers. I think my total was something like $17, what a deal!

cape foulweather

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Monday, May 14, 2012
My grandparents were in town this weekend and had a hankering to go to the coast. (Referring to anywhere along the western edge of Oregon as "the coast" is an old-style Portland thing. I almost always say "the beach" but that's because despite being born here, I grew up in Florida.) Anyway - this is an old building that used to be a lookout/observatory and is now a gift shop with lots of windows. The view when it is sunny: divine. The name of the cape (Cape Foulweather) tells the observant to enjoy the sun when they can. 

THE IRRESISTIBLE SIGN! Seriously. A fortune teller, a penny smasher AND the world's largest insect? Try to keep me away! I haven't actually seen the world's largest insect yet - I must be subconsciously saving it so the sign can remain thrilling and mysterious. I've seen the fortune teller (pirate automaton), but I haven't given him a dollar yet. What if he tells me where the insect is and leaves me with no gift shop treasures to anticipate? 

The view from the side. So lovely - doesn't that coastline look kind of piratey? 

in the spring

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

SPRING! It has been beautiful and busy so far. Right this very second (after midnight, but before midnight-thirty) I have a behind-the-eye headache and my feet are cold. This sounds like a bummer, but   it's the kind of headache that will go away overnight and I have plenty of socks. It could be worse. 

Maternal eyeball surgery update: my mom's eye surgery went off without a hitch and her eye is healing up nicely.  My favorite eye-surgery related event so far has been the day-after doctor's appointment. I walked into the waiting room and it was full of senior citizens in eye patches! It was surreal and sort of awesome, like it was the pirate pension office or something. (My mom and one other patient read the directions and were out of the eye patch and into mega-dark sunglasses.) 

I have a book related post coming soon, but in the meantime, here are a couple of flower pictures from today. On top, one of the first poppies to open up  - I just (literally JUST) discovered that this variety is called Papaver Orientalis 'Olympia'. There are only a few open right now, but in a couple of days - if the sun keeps shining - there will be hundreds and hundreds of them. I love the orange! 

Below is my frenemy/nemesis (frenemesis?) the dandelion. I notice now (too late) that the iris leaves in the background are in focus while the dandelion itself is a little gauzy. See?! It's just like dandelion to do that...