Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It's a Carnival! It's Halloween! It's a Carnival!

The 8th Carnival of Children's Literature is on! All sorts of good things going on there.

Many thanks to Michele at Scholar's Blog for hosting this round of the Carnival.

Go. Go!

Halloween Photos

So I ended up with over 500 kids in 2 1/2 hours of trick-or-treat onslaught. Which didn't leave time for a lot of photos. But I got a few, and I feel the need to share.

First, a very special neighbor who dressed up as candy corn (the joker on the right is her dad)....

The most intense Superman I've ever encountered. This man of steel takes his job very seriously. And apparently he is in cahoots with at least one unsavory character. When will superheroes ever learn? ...

One neighbor cracking open the emergency reserve candy. They had made up 350 treat bags in advance, but by 7:15 were breaking out the reserves....

Another neighbor posing as a scary statue. He was so still, I didn't realize that it was a real person in there at first. This house had a portable stereo (hidden in the plants) playing scary music too....

Big Macs and Shakes. They were so overloaded with sugar and fat, we felt it only right to give them candy to round out their nutritional intake. Now mom here seems to be proud of her shakeness, but is it just me or is dad shielding himself with the burgers? ...

The scariest little girl from Sunday's parade, who I made stop for a picture tonight because I lost her picture from Sunday. Unfortunately, she put on her "I'm an angel" smile for the picture, so you can't tell how truly terrifying she was. Think Children of the Corn. The Exorcist. The Omen. And look at how petrified the little girl next to her is. Don't be fooled by the smile -- that's all I'm sayin'.

And finally, this last picture is the even-more-scary little girl who terrified the nice people in another neighborhood. I love her dearly when she's not in this costume, but I don't ever want to see this again.

Wait for it....


I Ran Out of Candy!

Oh My God.

I had 1100 pieces of candy. I started out giving out 3 per kid, figuring on 300+ kids.

7:00 - realized I was running out, and switched to 2 per kid.

7:30 - realized I was really running out, and switched to 1 per kid.

7:40 - ran into the house and found a small stash of dove miniatures plus a few bags of potato chips and teddy grahams.

7:57 - ran into the house to hide.

Doing the math, I had well over 400 kids come to my house tonight. And that's before I ran out. The only thing that made me feel a little better is that my neighbors on either side ran out almost exactly when I did.

Pictures later!

Update: Talked to a neighbor. He says they had enough for 500 kids, and they ran out when I did.

Scary Movie Puzzle

Are you as excited about Halloween as I am?

Then check out this site from M&M's, where you can test your knowledge of scary movies. I got about 30 out of 50 on my own, then had to look online for a list of scary movie titles for another 10. And that's where I'm stuck.

This is awesome.

Quote of the Day, 10/31/06: Halloween Things

Happy Birthday Debra!

Last day of Halloween quotes, I swear. This year anyways.

J. M. Barrie

A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Where there is no imagination there is no Horror.

William Shakespeare

'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.

The Scrabble Gods Have Smiled Upon Him

I am not worthy. I am not worthy. I am not worthy....

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tanga Puzzles: October 30 - November 5

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself.

There may be spoilers in the comments here, so open with care.

Good luck!

October 30: One mistake in the puzzle -- there should be 3 dots for the big meal clue.... Be sure to pay attention to both lines of text at the bottom, when you get to that step.

October 31: This one is pretty straightforward. The Tanga puzzles started on 9/14.

November 1: All of the answers to the clues up top have a word in common.

November 2: Did I say something last week about a puzzle being the toughest yet? I spoke too soon. Read the paragraph up top carefully. There is a hint there about where you can find the answers to the clues below. I'm also going to put a spoiler in the comments here, in case you need a bigger clue.

November 3: Another straightforward one (thank goodness after yesterday!), but here is a big hint. The word clues and the picture clues match up, but not necessarily by looking at adjoining words and pictures.

November 4: The clues at the bottom provide direction for how to use the answers you get at the top.

November 5: Here's the clue, and it's a big one. For the third item, don't try to make it into a city. ... Okay, it's the end of the week, so I'll throw you another clue. Again, a pretty big one, so read with care. You do not need to go to the web to answer the "partner of the first six" part of this puzzle.

Lives in Letters: Postcard From a Flirt?

I showed this postcard as a teaser a couple of weeks ago. The front is so cute and funny! One of the things I liked about this one was the message and the address info on the back.

Plenty of Flirts
Englewood, New Jersey
June 25, 1912

Addressed to Mr. Van Nest C-
Asbury Park, New Jersey
"The Annesley"

We are in Englewood
at present having a good time.
How does this card strike you?
I suppose you have the same
things in Asbury Park. They are
trying to postpone a barn dance in
Sam G-'s new barn until we get
back. Fine, isn't it? Rachel


One of the first things that struck me was the addressee. Mr. Van Nest C- had a name that just smacked of old money, and a street address to go along with it. I checked out the family, and the Van Nests and the C's were a long line of people who could trace their roots back to 16th Century Germany. A family where 9th cousins ended up married, and where sons ended up with names like Van Nest because it was a family name.

With such a lineage, was it odd for him to receive this "flirt" postcard in 1912? Was his mother scandalized? Or was Rachel from a similar background and did that make it okay?

How old were Van Nest and Rachel?

Was "The Annesley" a nickname for Van Nest's house?

And ooh, imagine a time when barn dances were held to celebrate new barns. In New Jersey!

Quote of the Day, 10/30/06: Coraline

I'd heard so much about Coraline and I hadn't read it yet. So in honor of Halloween I thought I'd snuggle up with this delightfully scary children's book. Today's quote -- just the one -- is from Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

She had never been so scared, but still she walked forward until she reached the sac. Then she pushed her hand into the sticky, clinging whiteness of the stuff on the wall. It crackled softly, like a tiny fire, as she pushed, and it clung to her skin and clothes like a spiderweb clings, like white cotton candy. She pushed her hand into it, and she reached upward until she touched a cold hand.... The creature's skin felt slippery, as if it had been covered in jelly.
Do you have favorite scary scenes from children's books?

Halloween Parade in Lambertville

My camera didn't cooperate. Or my computer didn't. One of them corrupted about 15 great photos from yesterday's Halloween parade.

So I got the start of the parade.

And the end of the parade.

And a photo of one of the parents after the parade.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Best Passages in Children's Books - A Contest!

This contest closed on November 5.
Please check the Contests list periodically for more contests. Thanks!

Okay, my thoughts have percolated and the contest is ready.


(1) The Amulet of Samarkand, new (Jonathan Stroud)
(2) On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, new (Stephen King)
(3) $25 Starbucks gift card
(4) $25 Starbucks gift card

Contest Topic: Best Passages in Children's Books

How to Play: Submit your choices of "best" passages in the comments of one of the category posts linked below. All passages must be from children's or young adult books written in English. Passages can be as short as one sentence, but must not exceed 100 words.

Submissions will be accepted in 3 categories...

Be sure to enter your submissions into the proper category, using the links above. You can submit as many entries as you like per category, but I encourage you to try to select at least one for each category.

If you enter a passage for a category, you will be eligible for the drawing for that category. You will also receive 1 point for each entry, regardless of category. And... if you post about this contest on your blog, you will receive 10 bonus points (please let me know if you do post, so I get your points in). Points are good towards the 4th drawing as described below.

The submission period will end on November 5. Winners will be announced on November 6.

Winning: There will be four winners chosen in a series of drawings. First, one name will be chosen in each category. Every person who submits an entry to a category will be given an equal chance to win in this drawing, regardless of the number of submissions. Second, each of those three names will be randomly matched to prize 1, 2 or 3. Finally, for each point accumulated (see "How to Play" section) contestants will receive one entry into a final drawing for prize 4.

So, if you submitted a passage to all three categories, and posted about this on your blog, you'd get entered 1 time into each of the first three drawings, and 5 times in the last drawing.

Fine Print: If multiple people submit the same passage, I will only count the first entry. As with all Journey Woman contests, residents of the states of Confusion, The Union, Dread or Grace are not eligible to participate. Employees of Journey Woman's blog (that's me!) are not eligible (why why why?) to particpate.

A Few Memorable Passages

A sampling of the most memorable passages in children's literature:

Little Willow: Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. (Through the Looking Glass)

Erin: I was born singing. Most babies cry. I sang an aria. (Fairest)

Nancy: "Wendy, Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you might be flying about with me saying funny things to the stars." (Peter Pan)

A Few Poetic Passages

A sampling of the most poetic passages in children's literature:

Little Willow: Now it was only noise and girl and wiry woman. (The Book Thief)

Featherbee: Below the boughs the air was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle. (Anne of Green Gables)

Elaine Magliaro: The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone.... (Tuck Everlasting)

A Few Funny Passages

A sampling of the funniest passages in children's literature:

Mother Reader: I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. (Junie B. Jones)

Erin: If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. (The Wide Window)

Little Willow: Salt. Wound. Together at last. (13 Little Blue Envelopes)

Quote of the Day, 10/29/06: Ghosts

2 days till Halloween. I have over a thousand pieces of candy to give out, so please wish me good weather.

Today's quotes are about ghosts.

Washington Irving
He would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the Devil and all his works, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put together, and that was--a woman.

Erica Jong
The stones themselves are thick with history, and those cats that dash through the alleyways must surely be the ghosts of the famous dead in feline disguise.

Emily Bronte
You said I killed you - haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Quote of the Day, 10/28/06: Haunting

Sticking to the Halloweenish themes for the next few days. Today's quotes are about haunting.

Malcolm Muggeridge
It was a somber place, haunted by old jokes and lost laughter. Life, as I discovered, holds no more wretched occupation than trying to make the English laugh.

James Thurber
But those rare souls whose spirit gets magically into the hearts of men, leave behind them something more real and warmly personal than bodily presence, an ineffable and eternal thing. It is everlasting life touching us as something more than a vague, recondite concept. The sound of a great name dies like an echo; the splendor of fame fades into nothing; but the grace of a fine spirit pervades the places through which
it has passed, like the haunting loveliness of mignonette.

Steven Vincent Benet
Dreaming men are haunted men.

Logan Pearsall Smith
When people talk of Ghosts I don't mention the Apparition by which I am haunted, the Phantom that shadows me about the streets, the image or spectre, so familiar, so like myself, which lurks in the plate glass of shop-windows, or leaps out of mirrors.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Quote of the Day, 10/27/06: Fear

Yesterday we heard from three women about fear, so today I thought I'd stay on the fear topic but hear from some men.

Edmund Burke
No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.

Henry Louis Mencken
The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety.

Alfred Hitchcock
There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.

Books for Children Dealing With Tough Issues

I encourage you to check out Little Willow's fabulous list of children's/young-adult books that deal with tough issues.

A Little Poetry for You: Dylan Thomas

For some reason I've had "Fern Hill" stuck in my head for the last few weeks and this is the first opportunity I've had to include it in Poetry Friday. (Did I promise Browning? Browning will have to be next week I guess, as Thomas calls today.)

I like the images of the carefree child, who is able to be "prince" and "lordly" and "hunstman" and "herdsman" and "golden" all at once. It's about that time in your childhood when you did not yet know that childhood would not go on forever.

Fern Hill
Dylan Thomas

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.
To read the rest, and listen to Dylan Thomas reading the poem in very dramatic fashion, go here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Quote of the Day, 10/26/06: Fear

Some thoughts about fear, as the best fright night approaches....

Louisa May Alcott
I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.

Anne Frank
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.

Dorothy Thompson
Fear grows in darkness; if you think there's a bogeyman around, turn on the light.

Sometimes the Random Passage is One of the Best

Over at Chicken Spaghetti is a challenge to pull a passage from the nearest book. I followed the instructions to the letter, and here is what I got (from Honestly, Katie John):
She stopped her bike and stood looking at a small but especially beautiful maple tree that stood alone, taking in its flaming glory. Compelled, she dropped her bicycle at the roadside and climbed over the ditch to the maple. Scooping up some leaves from underneath it, she let them shower over her head and shoulders, holding some in her hands.

"Is this how it feels, tree?"

I think this fits quite nicely with my current obsession with Autumn and with the Best Passages contest. Have you submitted your entries yet?

Thanks for this Susan!

I DO Live in the Best Neighborhood

Kids are great.

This afternoon, two classes from the school down the street went on a walking tour of the Halloween decorations in town. It was hilarious listening to over-excited seven-year-olds shouting out "look there!" and "ooh, here's one that's scary!" and "look in the window!"....

Mine is the first really decorated house they got to after leaving the school, so they were pretty excited at this initial discovery. One child was kind enough to point out mine as they all trooped by, saying "This house isn't scary. The scary one is down there!"

Ah well. Scary isn't everything kid.

Here is my front porch, with a couple of updates. You can't see the cobwebs and spiders because they're in the foreground and I would have had to climb the pear tree to get that shot.

Here's my front door, which I'm pretty happy with. The little pumpkin at the bottom lights up and blinks, and children are very impressed by this. The big pumpkin in the middle is sort of fun-scary, and looks almost like he's breaking through the glass.

And because Daisy asked, here are the neighbor's new decorations. The one on the left dances, talks and screams "Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeeeeen!" in a child's voice. It would be creepy but the sneakers make it kind of cute.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Quote of the Day, 10/25/06: Illusion

I went looking for Stephen King quotes (from On Writing, which is one of the contest prizes) and instead found Stephen Hawking quotes, which led me to today's quote theme: illusion.

Stephen Hawking
The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

Kurt Vonnegut
Artists use frauds to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than people.

Patrick Henry
It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts... For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.

Words on Wednesday: Word Things About Me

(Shameless advertising: Don't forget the Best Passages of Children's Literature Contest now through November 5!)

The always wonderful and often funny (or is it often wonderful and always funny?) Mother Reader tagged me for the 5 things about me meme. Even though I've already done it, I thought I'd tie in my Words on Wednesday post with this meme, and honor the tag.

So, 5 Word-things About Me....

1. I have a curious ability to make myself very very believable when I lie. This, combined with a love of words, makes me a formidable Balderdash player.

2. I am a big fan of Scrabble, and am outraged that the latest Scrabble dictionary includes ZA and QI as valid words. Hmmmmmph!

3. I don't believe poetry must rhyme, but I am delighted when I find poems that use the sound of the language (alliteration, end-rhyme, internal rhyme, onomatopoeia, etc.) to draw me in. This is probably why I'm also a fan of old show-tunes, especially Cole Porter, who was a bit of a genius when it came to rhyme (Napolean Brandy and Mahatma Ghandi, wow).
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain.
You're the National Gallery.
You're Garbo's salary.
You're cellophane.

4. I have a very strong visual memory, especially with text. So in school, if I needed to remember a certain piece of information, I would call up my memory of where that info was located on which page of which book, and that would give me the answer.

5. By the time I was 7, I learned to read upside down. I practiced on the newspaper while my dad read it right-side-up. This ability has come in very handy at work, where I can use it to read a document that is in front of someone else.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Quote of the Day, 10/24/06: Humor

Oops, running late on Tuesday's quotes....

Bill Cosby
Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.

Groucho Marx
Humor is reason gone mad.

Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.

Funniest Passages in Children's Literature

Go here to see the submissions for funniest passages.

You can submit more of your funniest passages in the comments to this post.

Most Poetic Passages from Children's Literature

The most poetic passages are now posted here.

You can still submit your passage from children's literature with the most poetic use of language in the comments to this post.

Most Memorable Passages from Children's Literature

The list of memorable passages is posted here.

You can submit more of your most memorable passages from children's literature in the comments to this post.

Best Lines in Children's Books (I Feel a Contest Brewing)

I have another contest coming up quickly. Well, as quickly as I can figure out the exact rules. Once again, there will be Starbuck's gift cards on the line (get it? I feel a contest brewing?). Note the s in cards. Multiple prizes for this one.

And the end result will be some really cool reading, I hope.

For now, start thinking about your all-time favorite sentences and passages from children's and YA books. Maybe the funniest, the most poetic, the most poignant, maybe the most memorable.

As I mentioned, I have to figure out exactly what I want to do, and HOW, but I wanted to give you a head start. Stay tuned....

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tanga Puzzles, October 23-29

Here are the hints for the Tanga puzzles between October 23 and October 29. These are just hints, not answers. You can also check the Tanga blog, but people tend to give away the answer too soon there.

I'm adding a link to the sidebar to help you get to this post each day.

I'll put the hints right here in the post, but in a very light color; so if you want to see them, you have to highlight the text to the right of the date. Be careful about reading the post comments, as there may be spoilers in there.

Good luck!


October 23: Each of the clues should lead you to a proper word.

October 24: Wow, this was incredibly hard, and I needed a few hints. These are real spoilers. First, think about what you might find in your pocket, or in your sofa cushions. Remember you'll be looking for columns. Finally, before you can finish, remember the real nice elephant.

October 25: If you start with the last item in the 2nd row, and then get the first item in the 3rd row, you will understand the theme of the clues.

October 26: First, the MPH clue should read MPG. Also, once you get all twelve clues answered, don't forget the first sentence.

October 27: For the second step, look at the colored edging like a gameboard, where the black square is START.

October 28: After the Cleopatra puzzle, this might be the hardest Tanga I've seen. There is a shortcut, but I won't hint for that because it just makes the puzzle disappointing. But if you are looking for a shortcut, you can check the Tanga blog and someone pretty much gives it away within the first 15 comments. For the long way, I'll help by giving the first letter of each city, and whether it's in the U.S. or not: C (no), B (no), T (yes), B (yes), K (no), P (no), T (no), D (yes) and K (no).

October 29: First, don't use Google to try to find the quote or any of the phrases. The puzzle doesn't require anything that hard. Instead, look at the grid (ignoring colors for a moment) and notice what will be needed to fill it in. When you fill it in, use columns instead of rows. Last, don't bother with the yellow-square instruction -- it won't help you solve the puzzle. Sorry A.

Childrens and YA Books Blogger Awards - Announcement

Kidlit awards grow out of bloggers' frustration

CHICAGO, Illinois – Like all revolutions, this one started small, with a single post on a blog devoted to children's literature. The Newbery Medals seemed too elitist and the Quills, well, not enough so.

Was there a middle ground, an annual award that would recognize both a book's merits and popularity?

The answer: invent one! Within hours, this meme had circulated among some of the biggest bloggers in the burgeoning kidlitosphere, the cozy corner of the Web where children's books are given the same regard as their grown-up counterparts.

Within days, the new awards had a name and a website: The Cybils, a loose acronym for Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards, at www.cybils.com. Nominations quickly opened in eight categories, from picture books up to Young Adult fiction and even graphic novels.

In keeping with the democratic and unpredictable nature of the blogosphere, anybody can nominate a book, so long as it was published in 2006 in English. Yep, anybody: teens can log their choices, authors can nominate themselves, random Googlers can leave word too.

Nominations close Nov. 20. Then comes the literary part. Panels comprised of bloggers with expertise in their category will cull the lists down to five finalists (to be announced Jan. 1). After that, judges step in to pick the winners.

Who are these smarty-pants panelists and judges? Some have impressive bona fides, including, yes, a Newbery judge. Others are your garden-variety librarians, teachers, homeschoolers, authors and illustrators, parents and the kidlit-obsessed.

"Think of it as Wal-Mart meets Nordstrom over kids' books," said Anne Boles Levy, a freelance writer who blogs at Book Buds Kidlit Reviews (www.bookbuds.net). "Bedtime will never be the same."

Media Contacts:
Anne Boles Levy, anne@bookbuds.net
Kelly Herold, kidslitinfo@gmail.com


  • You can nominate any children's book or Young Adult book published in 2006.
  • You can only nominate one book per category.
  • You don't have to be a blogger to nominate a book.
  • You don't have to be a librarian, teacher, child, young adult, or writer either.
  • Submit your nominations here.

Quote of the Day, 10/23/06: Mystery

Today's postcard made me think about mystery. It's interesting that you can use story-telling to tackle mystery. What ship? I'll tell you what ship....

Henry Miller
Until we accept the fact that life itself is founded in mystery, we shall learn nothing.

Julia Cameron
Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.

George Washington Carver
When I was young, I said to God, 'God, tell me the mystery of the universe.' But God answered, 'That knowledge is for me alone.' So I said, 'God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.' Then God said, 'Well George, that's more nearly your size.' And he told me.

Lives in Letters: Postcards with Mystery

One of the fun things about reading postcards is that because the messages are often short, they create a mystery that is open to many different solutions.

Here's one like that.

The Commodore
"New York's Best Located Hotel"
Grand Central Terminal
New York, NY
February 19, 1938

Addressed to Mr. Elvin L-
Sea Girt, New Jersey

Staying here
a week or so --
in case the
ship's in.

Mary Alice

When I first read this, I thought "military ship," but then I saw the date. Although the U.S. was building its Naval force in the late 30's, we didn't have a large Navy yet in 1938. And as far as I can discover, military ships weren't coming in and out of New York unexpectedly. A few years later and a military ship would have been a more likely answer.

Perhaps it was a hired ship bringing back Americans who had gone to Spain to fight in their Civil War. That would have been about the right time. Maybe.

It was a year too early to be this sad ship, full of passengers doomed to return to Europe and the horrors that waited there.

It wasn't a cruise ship, like this one who was the Queen of her day (I visited her in California). These ocean liners ran on strict schedules, so Mary Alice would have known for sure when the ship was due, had it been a cruise ship.

Perhaps it was a cargo ship. These would have had much less definite schedules, and someone staying on in New York in case his or her [insert large item one might be excited to get as soon as possible] arrived might make sense.

Here's a nice write-up about the big-ship days of New York. From that piece:

It is hard to remember nowadays the permanent display that was the waterscape of New York in those days. The sea traffic was incessant, night and day, wherever you looked. Tall-funneled ferries chuffed determinedly across the Hudson. Lighters loaded with railway wagons plodded to and from the railway terminals at the New Jersey shore. Towboats hauled lines of barges loaded deep. The powerful Staten Island ferry steamers went by, and the dear old Circle Line pleasure craft, and pilot boats off to Sandy Hook, and police launches and fire floats and Moran tugs hastening seaward, and scows full of stinking rubbish for landfill, and even a few genuine fishing boats taking their catch directly to the Fulton Street fish market. Freighters waiting for quarantine inspection hung about dimly at the Narrows, and through it all the big ships patiently trod their way, majestic liners for the West Side piers, cargo ships making for Brooklyn, warships on their way to refit or to break-up at the Navy yard. It was one of the great maritime spectacles of the world: the seaport of New York, in the last years of its heyday, honoring the purposes that had brought the city into existence in the first place.

One last thought.... Perhaps Mary Alice was being metaphorical. Maybe she was saying, "if my dreams are coming true here" when she wrote "in case the ship's in."

If so, I wonder what the dreams were.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tanga Who is My Father

This is a bonus Tanga post, because I see in my stats that people keep searching google for help with that old puzzle ("who is my father") and coming to my blog, where I've offered nothing.

So here is something: Ignore the stars.

It's not much of a clue, but this was the clue that did the trick for me.

Somewhere Over the Tanga

Well thank goodness for moms who puzzle, that's all I can say.

Clue is in the comments.

Quote of the Day, 10/22/06: Anonymity

Well now that I've told you five little-known things about me, I'll dive back into anonymity.

Igor Stravinsky
I was born out of due time in the sense that by temperament and talent I should have been more suited for the life of a small Bach, living in anonymity and composing regularly for an established service and for God.

Joichi Ito
I still believe that there are definitely costs to anonymity, but stifling anonymous speech is a huge cost to democracy.

Randall Jarrell
The world goes by my cage and never sees me.

5 Little-Known Things About Me (5 Things Meme)

I was tagged by Debra for a meme. Whoo hoo! I love memes because they absolve me of the need to come up with blog topics of my own, for this one day anyhow.

This meme requires me to tell you all 5 little-known things about myself.

1. When I was about 7, I got my inspiration for one of my earliest poems from an image of a bearded man in the knotty pine of our basement. I started to think of a sing-songy line that went something like, "In my wall I see a face." But I thought that wouldn't sell to the adult crowd, so I opted for a religious theme instead, changing it to "In my Bible I see a face." What it lacked in iambs it more than made up for in saccharin.

2. Although I concentrated in children's literature in college and grad school, and was joyful upon entering college to learn I'd never have to take another math course, I am still fascinated in and quite good with numbers. There is something satisfying about staring into a mass of data, following its paths, and finding out what the data is saying. Oh, and I was a Mathlete in high school.

3. I am afraid of Eydie Gorme and have been since I was about 10 years old. Back then I had a series of recurring nightmares where I had somehow caused Steve Lawrence to be paralized or in a coma, and Eydie was pissed. It wasn't till Steve did a guest bit on The Nanny a few years ago that I got past my abhorrence of him. I still can't stand the site of Eydie though.

4. I was diagnosed with exotropia (wandering eye) in my left eye when I was about 8. They sent me to the Lion's Orthoptic Clinic where a wonderful woman named Mrs. Greer helped me through 4 years of eye exercises with prisms and machines and instruments. At the end of it all I had exotropia in both eyes, but the ability to control it. 7 years ago I had laser surgery to correct for very bad nearsightedness (then 20-650 R and 20-1000 L), and my eyes (now 20-20 R and L) hardly wander at all now.

By the way, 20-1000 means that what a normal person sees from 1000 feet away, I had to be 20 feet away to see.

5. I have been robbed at least 6 times:
  • Purse stolen from office (lost key to kryptonite bike lock and had to use a metal torch to break it open; lost paycheck but got it replaced, unfortunately too late to pay the rent on time)
  • Charge card number stolen and used by woman on other side of country (she worked for Sears, stole my Sears card number, and bought appliances)
  • Car trunk broken into and various items stolen (nothing too heartbreaking here, this was basically a grab and dash)
  • Car window broken and various items stolen (this was more a pain than anything else -- they didn't have time to get the stereo, but they grabbed a few little things and cost me a whole morning getting the window replaced)
  • ATM card and pin stolen and used (they got $300 a day for 3 days before I noticed)
  • Mugged at paper-bag (gun?)-point in West Hollywood ($80 just taken out of ATM 10 minutes earlier, plus my Halloween costume, which I had shoved in the bag on the way to a party)
The mugging was obviously the highlight of these events. I'll save the whole story for another day, but leave you with an image of me watching my friend struggle to hand over her purse, while I stood there and thought, "Should I wait with her till she's done being mugged, or should I run for help while she sorts things out with this guy with the paper bag?" And then the mugger noticing that I was not parting with my belongings quite as quickly as he would have liked, and turning his paper-bag (gun?) on me.

I'm tagging: Tim, Erin, Kelly

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Circle of Tanga

Tonight's Tanga puzzle, with the ring of yellow and pink circles, reminds me of the circle puzzles that sometimes show up as the second puzzle on Sunday in the New York Times.

I got the overall answer to the puzzle before I got all the sub-answers. Then it took me a while longer to figure out one of the sub-answers, because I had done something else wrong.

Clue in the comments.

Quote of the Day, 10/21/06: October

October is my favorite month. It's cool and windy, the skies are at their clearest, there's Halloween and applesauce, and the smell of fires burning, and of course, the trees are in their second bloom.

(Note, I'm changing my subject lines for quote of the day, so that the quote topic is in there too.)

Here are today's quotes, all about October.

Nathaniel Hawthorne
There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.

Henry David Thoreau
To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet. Some of these apples might be labeled, “To be eaten in the wind.” It takes a savage or wild taste to appreciate a wild fruit....

Margaret Walker
From the poem "October Journey" which you can read and listen to here.

I want to tell you what hills are like in October
when colors gush down mountainsides
and little streams are freighted with a caravan of leaves,
I want to tell you how they blush and turn in fiery shame

. and joy,

how their love burns with flames consuming and terrible
until we wake one morning and woods are like a smoldering

. plain--

a glowing caldron full of jewelled fire;
the emerald earth a dragon's eye
the poplars drenched with yellow light
and dogwoods blazing bloody red.