There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.
I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.
You can't have a light without a dark to stick it in.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Very Recently Finished: entire Narnia series
Comments: I loved it all except the last book, which I found disappointing and frustrating from start to finish. Not that the last book didn't have lovely moments. It just didn't seem in tune with the rest.
Very Recently Finished: Katie John
Comments: I had a sudden flashback several weeks ago, and remembered that I adored the Katie John books when I was 9 or 10. So I went online and bought them to read again. This first book was fun and funny and sweet and all I hoped it would be.
Currently Reading: The Amulet of Samarkand
Comments: I've been reading this for weeks, but can't get inspired to read more than one or two chapters before I put it aside for days on end. This book seems like hard work.
Currently Reading: Honestly, Katie John!
Comments: This one is the title I remember best, but now that I'm reading it, I realize there's another book that came between Katie John and Honestly, Katie John that I didn't buy yet. I'll finish this one and go back after the middle one arrives. Still having great fun! Boy-haters unite!
Currently Reading: Lisey's Story
Comments: I'm starting a new job on Monday that will require a 45-minute commute. Audio-books, here I come! I picked up the new Stephen King book to start with, plus borrowed about 10 more from my mother -- this should get me into January I hope. So far I've listened to the first 4 hours of Lisey's Story and I'm hooked. I'm confused, but I'm hooked.
Currently Reading: The Christmas Train
Comments: I've got the King book on cassette, and The Christmas Train on CD. So I can switch back and forth with ease. I read The Christmas Train last year and thought it was fun, light and festive. So I figure it's a good re-read for the holidays. Especially for days when I have to go out shopping and need to get in the festive mood. When I'm done with The Christmas Train, I have Garrison Keillor Christmas stuff and David Sedaris Christmas stuff on CD as backups. Or I'll just stick with the King and let myself get totally caught up in his world. (A little less ho, ho, ho, and a little more heh, heh, heh.)
I didn't win anything in the Tangathon.
I didn't win (or, I admit, even come close to winning) at bowling during my high-school reunion events.
And I just finished telling a friend that, of course, "I never win anything."
But look. What's that? An email from Robin Brande, author, blogger and benefactress to the sugar-deficient.... An email saying -- are you listening, are you paying attention, are you comprehending the pure joy and beauty of it all? -- I've won chocolate in her monthly chocolate giveaway!
That's right folks. I am a chocolate winner. And really, when it comes to chocolate, we're all winners aren't we?
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today. I don't think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you're hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time.
It is one of the paradoxes of American literature that our writers are forever looking back with love and nostalgia at lives they couldn't wait to leave.
Being Lutheran, Mother believed that self-pity is a deadly sin and so is nostalgia, and she had no time for either.
Things ain't what they used to be and probably never was.
This stuff is fascinating, and sometimes exhausting.
- There's a new Bookworm game called Bookworm Adventures. I just tried it out. Got killed in level 5, but enjoyed it very much till then. If you like word games, check out the free trial of the deluxe version.
- Thanks very much to Eric Berlin for pointing out this fun film about the history and agony of Scrabble.
- And the word of the week, according to Stanley Newman in the Contra Costa Times, is cryptozoology. "It is the study of creatures whose existence is as yet unproved." Like Nessie. Or Bigfoot.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.
The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
Nonsense and beauty have close connections.
Stephen Jay Gould
Even the standard example of ancient nonsense - the debate about angels on pinheads - makes sense once you realize that theologians were not discussing whether five or eighteen would fit, but whether a pin could house a finite or an infinite number.
Bridge to Terabithia (coming in February)
Eragon (coming December 15; John Malkovich and Jeremy Irons?)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (coming in July)
Update: Go here for word on the Nancy Drew movie coming out in 2007. Link to the trailer is included.
Monday, November 27, 2006
If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.
You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.
Remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS.
"Market Square" at
March 8, 1939
Miss Nancy G-
The front of the postcard has some items of interest -- the ad above the shop on the left is just a bit too small for me to make out. Same with the shop names on the right. I need a big magnifying glass to do this right. It would be cool to know what businesses were in Market Square in 1939.
What is the kiosk in the middle? Anyone?
Okay, now on to the intrigue.
Don't you want to know more about Mr. K's relationship to Nancy? What man would be in a position to send this kind of a note to a single woman in 1939? It's a pretty familiar (as in casual, personal) note, but then signed by "Mr. K" instead of "Bob" or "Joe" or some other more intimate name. The fact that he uses just his last initial makes it sound casual enough, but I'd still be inclined to peg him as Nancy's teacher, boss, or other elder, rather than a boyfriend or school chum.
And what about the fingernails? Was Nancy being catty? Did she literally have long fingernails that she had to be careful of for some reason? Or was she off to an all-girls school and was Mr. K warning her about other girls' fingernails? I'm going for the first -- Mr. K was giving Nancy a cute reminder to keep her claws from showing.
I wonder if Nancy thought it was cute too. Did she laugh? Was she offended? Embarrassed?
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, which is chock full of spoilers.
While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.
November 27: A map would be most helpful here. Also, there's a bit of a flaw in this puzzle, which I'll say more about in the comments of this post. Update: they fixed the flaw.
November 28: It's a little annoying that there are no lines to indicate letters in each word, but even without that, this is not so bad to put together. Just work with what you're given.
November 29: Do you really need a hint for this one? If you must have a hint, then the only one I can give is going to be a biggie. Sure you want it? Okay... count the total number of spaces.
November 30: I'll leave you to figure out the connection between the seven clues. The hint you really need tonight is what to do with the numbers. Focus on the ones with two digit numbers. Do you notice anything about the first digit of each of these?
December 1: The third line of clues is confusing. I went with "under skirt, vertically challenged, and calm in middle of storm" instead of the clues they've given. This means my answers weren't the same width as the clues, but in the end, they worked better. I'll put a bigger hint about the VC part in the comments. UPDATE: My answers as clued above were correct. The puzzle-makers fixed the width problem.
December 2: I'm ashamed of myself because it took me 10 minutes to get the connection even though I am from Massachusetts and have a close affiliation with that particular answer. Once you get the connection and figure out what the missing one is, you'll need to think contemporary.
December 3: Pay attention to the first word.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
The poem itself doesn't paint a very romantic picture of journeywomen, so it may seem curious that I chose to name the blog as I did. All I can say is, I like the way it conjures up images of being on a journey, of having some sort of permanence, and of being part of a continuing history.
Soft slumber to a silent sunrise.
The mists lift
and leave a sleeve of dew
on masts and decks
afloat above the wrecks
of ancient journeywomen.
The sun is with her.
It dances and romances
’cross decks and masts
afloat above the pasts
of jilted journeywomen.
Windless, motor down,
she drifts uneasy
by the shores,
and a breeze to blow her home.
Sir Philip Sidney
The best legacy I can leave my children is free speech, and the example of using it.
A man cannot leave a better legacy to the world than a well-educated family.
What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
George Bernard Shaw
Reminiscences make one feel so deliciously aged and sad.
Peter L. Berger
The past is malleable and flexible, changing as our recollection interprets and re-explains what has happened.
H. H. Munro
The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Willie, with a thirst for gore,
Nailed his sister to the door.
Mother said, with humor quaint:
"Now Willie dear, don't scratch the paint."
Into the family drinking well
Willie pushed his sister Nell.
She's there yet, because it kilt her --
Now we have to buy a filter.
The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place. The few books she had read and liked had been fairy-story books, and she had read of secret gardens in some of the stories. Sometimes people went to sleep in them for a hundred years, which she had thought must be rather stupid. She had no intention of going to sleep, and, in fact, she was becoming wider awake every day which passed at Misselthwaite.
A Little Princess
She was such a little girl that one did not expect to see such a look on her small face. It would have been an old look for a child of twelve, and Sara Crewe was only seven. The fact was, however, that she was always dreaming and thinking odd things and could not herself remember any time when she had not been thinking things about grown-up people and the world they belonged to. She felt as if she had lived a long, long time.
Little Lord Fauntleroy
It is astonishing how short a time it takes for very wonderful things to happen. It had taken only a few minutes, apparently, to change all the fortunes of the little boy dangling his red legs from the high stool in Mr. Hobbs's store, and to transform him from a small boy, living the simplest life in a quiet street, into an English nobleman, the heir to an earldom and magnificent wealth. It had taken only a few minutes, apparently, to change him from an English nobleman into a penniless little impostor, with no right to any of the splendours he had been enjoying. And, surprising as it may appear, it did not take nearly so long a time as one might have expected to alter the face of everything again and to give back to him all that he had been in danger of
Thursday, November 23, 2006
H. U. Westermayer (no photo available)
The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet. Believe in man. Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place. There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in.
Going to the carnival will help you in many ways:
- It will make your Thanksgiving food taste better
- It will aid in digestion
- It will inspire clever conversation at the dinner table
- It will inspire thankful thoughts
- It will give you the will power to skip that third piece of pie
Or so I've heard....
Amy was right: nobody ever asks about the language. They ask the DeLillos and the Updikes and the Styrons, but they don't ask popular novelists. Yet many of us proles care about the language, in our humble way, and care passionately about the art and craft of telling stories on paper.Why bring up Stephen King for a post about children's books? Because I believe children's books are relegated by many to the same kind of lesser-class status of popular novels. As are children's book authors and illustrators. I'm not sure exactly why this is the case, but it seems to revolve around a distinction drawn between writing that entertains and writing that is "Worthy."
A few weeks back, Greg over at GottaBook asked, why write for kids? And some replied: Why not? or, Why write for adults? Madeleine L'Engle, you'll remember, said something in a similar vein:
You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.Greg's commenters and L'Engle are not being overly defensive, evasive or cute. They are simply standing up for a part of the literary world that they are proud of, a part of the literary world that produces some of the most wonderful writing out there.
And it is that wonderful writing which makes me thankful. The breathtaking words I grew up on, the humorous words I shared with friends, the words I still remember long after first reading them. I am thankful for the language of children's literature.
A short time ago I invited people to contribute their ideas of the best passages from children's literature. The response was great, and produced 220 quotations across well over 150 books.
Frankly, I don't think that even scratches the surface.
So I welcome you to take a look at what we collected so far, to spend some time laughing over the funny lines and crying over the beautiful lines, and then to keep adding more! Follow the links below for:
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I awoke this morning with a devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. Shall I not call God the Beautiful, who daily showeth himself to me in his gifts?
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
My great-grandfather was already here, and his sister listed his home as her destination. She also said she had $7.50 in her possession.Interested in seeing when your ancestors came to the U.S., and under what circumstances? Ancestry.com has the goods -- passenger lists from 19th and early 20th centuries. Plus they have census records, which are also simply fascinating.
My great-grandmother was not on the boat (why? was she already married to my great-grandfather and in the U.S. by then? needs more investigation), but her parents and sisters were on the boat and listed another of the siblings as their destination. Between the 4 of them they had $20.
My great-grandmother's parents and sisters are shown as Irish under "race or people" yet we have never claimed any Irish in our family.
One of the questions on the form was whether each individual was in possession of $50, and if less, how much. I wonder why.
Oh yeah, the T.V. show too.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Marian Wright Edelman (two days in a row)
We may draw good out of evil; we must not do evil, that good may come.
Never let a man imagine that he can pursue a good end by evil means, without sinning against his own soul. The evil effect on himself is certain.
Monday, November 20, 2006
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, which is chock full of spoilers.
There may be spoilers in the comments here, so open with care.
November 20: Wow, tough start to the week! I thought I'd never solve this. Here are two fairly big clues for you... First, notice the vowels across the top on the right hand side? What else strikes you about this side of the puzzle? If it doesn't click, ask yourself why the dot is there in the top left corner of that part of the puzzle. I'm leaving a bigger hint in the comments, that will help with the last step.
November 21: Good fun tonight. Start by writing down all the words. When written out, it becomes easier to see how to get them into the two piles. Then, and this is a big hint but it's key, your goal is to find one 6-letter word, not to find three words of 4-5 letters.
November 22: Why do the grid squares need to be just big enough for one die? By the way, don't jump to the conclusion that you really need to use dice. I just made little squares of paper and bent them in the middle to make them easier to push.
November 23: Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have much to give thanks for. Okay, here's a little help... if you want a quick place to look up these flags, go here and try some of the big obvious countries (http://www.national-symbol.com/).
November 24: When you get them all in the proper grid, be sure to follow the instructions you find.
November 25: If you examine the sentence at the top very carefully, you can expect to solve this one pretty easily.
November 26: There are 24 puzzles over the next 24 hours, and I'm on the road, so I won't be able to clue them all. The first two have been very easy (not even clue-worthy), but I'll check back in sometime tomorrow evening to see if there are any tough ones that you might need a clue for.
But enough about my projects. Today's postcard intrigued me because it was from a World War II soldier to his brother.
Bear Mtn Hudson R. Bridge
West Point, NY
(no stamp: “Free” postage)
October 6, 1944
Mr. Frank O-
Hi ya DinkNotes:
Arrived safely + on time
this morning. How did
out getting back
to Pat? Thanks for taking
me to the station. Didn’t
work much and got enough of
rest. Lots of luck kid.
The postcard was sent from Pfc Alexander O-, U.S.M.A. Med Det., West Point, NY. So this tells us a thing or two. Alex was part of the Medical Detachment at West Point, but he was not a doctor. A doctor would have been an officer, however Alex was a Private. I picture him as the WWII equivalent of MASH's Radar. But I don't picture the glasses or the receding hairline for some reason -- I think it has to do with the tone of the message he wrote.
I noted that there was no stamp, only the word "Free" written across the spot for a stamp. I've picked up several postcards like this, with "free" or "X" written on that spot. They're all from soldiers to civilians. I asked around (thanks Dad!) and found out that military personnel were exempt from needing to use postage on letters sent during wartime. It's a good thing too. When you think about the weather conditions soldiers had to endure, can you imagine how tough it would have been to keep the stamps dry and intact?
From the message itself, I gather that Frank (Dink) took his big brother into New York to catch a train back to West Point. It's not a very long trip, but for Alex to have arrived "this morning" means that Frank probably took him in to the city in the wee hours. This explains in part Alex's question about how Frank made out getting back to Paterson. It's not a bad drive these days, but I don't know how it was in 1944. I do know that the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge were both built in the 1930's so at least he wasn't stuck having to go all the way down to the Holland Tunnel or having to take a ferry. But he would most likely have been driving slowly (speeds restricted during the war) and in the dark, and the gas rationing of the time might have made this drive a tight squeeze, so it was not an inconsequential trip.
It's good that Alex arrived safely and on time, remembering that "on time" has a pretty strict interpretation when you are in the military. It's interesting though that he sent a postcard for such a simple message. Tells you how few people had phones at that time. There was a sentiment (or was it a saying?) during those years that "after the war" everyone would have a telephone. But during the war, most civilians had no phones or had 4-party lines.
I have to go out on a limb to interpret Alex's meaning when he says "Didn't work much and got enough of rest." Again with a nod to Dad, the conjecture is that Alex had a pass rather than a leave. With a pass, it is good for so many hours (48-hour pass, for instance) and it sometimes comes with strings attached. It's possible that Alex had homework that he had to have completed by the time he returned, and so he spent his time working on this in the train station and/or on the train.
"Dink!" Again with the nicknames. This one looks like it's straight out of my mother's family, where names like Duck, Tootsie and Butsis abound.
"Lots of luck kid." I wonder how old Frank is. He's old enough to drive, which means he might be old enough to be a soldier himself. Or very close. "Lots of luck kid" has an entirely different connotation when you consider how soon Frank might be in Europe or the Pacific, with another year left in the war.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.
Rabbi Zusya (no picture available)
In the world to come, I shall not be asked, "Why were you not Moses?" I shall be asked, "Why were you not Zusya?"
Marian Wright Edelman
I'm doing what I think I was put on this earth to do. And I'm really grateful to have something that I'm passionate about and that I think is profoundly important.
She stepped out onto the deck for one last look at the cove before bed. The clouds had gathered and now obscured the moon. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness before her, and during that moment she heard a sound like steady rain all around. She felt no drops, but held out her palm for several seconds just to be sure. Then as the water and the trees and the rocky shore took shape in front of her, she saw thousands of dry autumn leaves dancing through the dark night, landing on the rocks and flying against the house like so many raindrops.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
The true novel wrestles on the edge of understanding, lying about on all sides desperately, for every sort of experience, pressing into use every flash of intuition or correspondence, trying to fuse together the crudest of materials, and the humblest, which the higher arts can’t include. But it is precisely here, where the writer fights with the raw, the intractable, that poetry is born. Poetry, that is, of the novel: appropriate to it.
Narrative art, the novel, from Murasaki to Proust, has produced great works of poetry.
There is poetry even in prose, in all the great prose which is not merely utilitarian or didactic: there exist poets who write in prose or at least in more or less apparent prose; millions of poets write verses which have no connection with poetry.
Always be a poet, even in prose.
Friday, November 17, 2006
It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy.
A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.
A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.
I'm calling in with my thoughts on my personal favorite, Berkeley Breathed's A Wish for Wings that Work. In a week or so I'll share my thoughts about the book here too.
For more info on the podcast, go here.
Via: Fuse #8
For some reason, I drifted away from it after college. Decided that it was old and boring. Overdone. Then today I took another look, wondering if I could bring myself to like it enough for Poetry Friday. And what happened?
I love it again. Or still. I look at any 4 lines in this poem and immediately feel the urge to read them aloud. However I do not feel the urge to listen to Eliot himself read them out loud. I think he spoils it, oddly enough. But if you want to hear him, click here.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
(skipping the epigraph, which is from Dante's Inferno, and basically says, if I thought you might carry my tale back to others, I'd never tell it)
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
Oh, but don't stop there. Some of the best parts of the poem are yet to come!
Click here for the rest of the poem, a brief biography of the poet, and a few footnotes.
Susan has the Poetry Friday round-up today over at Chicken Spaghetti. Head on over and check out the wonderful buffet of poetry.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Michel de Montaigne
When I quote others I do so in order to express my own ideas more clearly.
A. Bronson Alcott
One must be a wise reader to quote wisely and well.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Words like "freedom," "justice," "democracy" are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.
I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.
We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse: we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard. More than that, we speak volumes — our language is the language of everything we have not read. Shakespeare and the Authorised Version surface in supermarkets, on buses, chatter on radio and television. I find this miraculous. I never cease to wonder at it. That words are more durable than anything, that they blow with the wind, hibernate and reawaken, shelter parasitic on the most unlikely hosts, survive and survive and survive.