Thursday, September 10, 2009


Hmmm.... a Reading Challenge from Stainless Steel Droppings.

Now, apparently there are reading challenges all over the web. I've never participated in one... but you know what? I really should. That kind of thing is right up my alley. Due to circumstances and inner turmoil, I've read very, very little over the past year, but it's time to start reclaiming that part of myself. This challenge appealed not only because of its subject matter - scary stories from any genre! - but also thanks to that gorgeous image. Seriously, I would hang that on my wall.

Anyway, here's my reading pool, culled from my own shelves of books waiting to be read.

The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs. Okay, I've read this multiple times over the past 30 years, but I'm ready to read it again! In my mind, this is the PERFECT scary story. I'll have some more glowing things to say after re-devouring it, because this one is a definite.

For horror, The Damnation Game by Clive Barker. His first novel, I believe, and it sounds terribly interesting.

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. This is the first in a Library of America volume of Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s & 40s. Maybe I'll rent the movie after reading it.

Dragonwyck by Anya Seton. This is a Gothic-sounding romance from the 1940s. I have a small stack of Anya Seton novels picked up at thrift stores and flea markets over the years, because they looked and sounded so appealing. Time to start reading them.

The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. It appears to be a sci-fi thriller, and just looks like something that belongs on this list.

Last, for the short story challenge, I very much want to read my Junior Deluxe Edition of Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories by Washington Irving, which I've had for most of my life but forgotten about until recently. The snarkapoo and I recently enjoyed a lovely illustrated version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Will Moses, so I'm in the mood to go back to the original.

That's it for now! We'll see how it goes. Of course, this is in addition to the group of lovely fat sequels to fantasy novels written by my friends that I'm currently working on. More about those soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A walk at Silver Creek

These are from late yesterday afternoon. Josh and I took a walk on a trail I hadn't visited in years. This kind of stuff feeds my soul. I know, a few trees, a field full of weeds... isn't it great? I love the landscape in Ohio, I really do.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pics of books and that's it

and why is that it? Because I forgot to take pictures while we were actually at the Great Trail Festival today. Oh well. It was a beautiful day - sunny, not too hot, hasn't rained this week so no mud puddles in the woods. Anyway, here are the books I found for $4 each:

Yay! Holling Clancy Holling books are classics, and wonderfully appealing. I'd been wanting to read some of them with the snarkapoo. Here are some pages from Tree in the Trail:

In other news, here's a question for debate: is the kettle corn that you buy fresh at a festival actually better tasting than the stuff you can get at the grocery store these days? My mother says yes. I'm not completely convinced. I do wholeheartedly endorse fresh-squeezed lemonade, though.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Well hi... 'cause, that's how this starts out

Well hi. Thought I'd make one last post for August, for whatever it's worth. Today felt like fall, and that's just not right. Not yet. There are TWO blankets on my bed tonight, and the air conditioner's still in the window. What kind of sense does that make?

On the homeschooling front, we sat down at the kitchen table today and DID things. Woo-hoo! The snarkapoo started a spelling notebook... she likes to spell, and is good at it. We found some things to work on, though. I gave her a list of herbs and spices, some of which she wasn't familiar with, and she did a great job of sounding them out phonetically. Echinacea became ecenashea. I thought that was a pretty good guess.

We also started reading Book 1 of A History of US: 11-Volume Set by Joy Hakim. It looks like all the good things I've heard about this series might be true. It's full of information, but written in a very chatty, down-to-earth style, and has plenty of open-ended questions to get kids really thinking and forming their own opinions. I like that. She read all the quotes in the first chapter about the meaning of history, and we talked about them... after clarifying who Cicero and Marcus Garvey were. Here's a favorite: "It is one thing to write like a poet, and another thing to write like a historian. The poet can tell or sing of things not as they were but as they ought to have been, whereas the historian must describe them, not as they ought to have been, but as they were, without exaggerating or hiding the truth in any way." - Miguel de Cervantes, from Don Quixote. There's a lot to think about there.

There was more, but it's late, and time for a last cup of tea before bed.

**listening to: Music for Harp, Flute and Cello by Angels of Venice. I'm very much in the mood for soft and pretty at the moment, but of course, being me, with mysterious, Renaissance-y overtones. This music is awfully close to perfect. It soothes me, and makes me yearn, opens up windows in my heart, and provides a rich backdrop for imagination.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rain, rain, go away

We TRIED to go swimming today. Threw our stuff in the car and drove to the pond where we normally swim... and by the time we got there: wind. rain. thunder. (sigh) Bonnie was waiting for us there, and invited us back to her house. By the time we got THERE, the sun was shining. So the kids went outside to set up the Slip 'n Slide. They played for about 10 minutes, and then it started raining and thundering again.

I don't really like to complain about the weather. So I'll stop there. The afternoon wasn't a total loss... there were brownies, and children swooping around in superhero capes, and good conversation. Another day closer to the end of summer.

I'm not saying that's a bad thing. It's good, really. School starting isn't an issue for us. And the past few months have crawled like molasses.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Modern fantasy, the retro version

So, I've been perusing this book from the library for awhile - Modern Fantasy: the Hundred Best Novels, by David Pringle. The title page further specifies: An English-Language Selection, 1946-1987. It's a good book. Each entry has a mini-essay with info on the author, a plot synopsis, and some commentary. Fun to read for a fantasy freak.

I was a little surprised, though, to see that I've only read 9 books (or series) from the list:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Once and Future King - T.H. White
A Fine and Private Place - Peter S. Beagle
The Last Unicorn - Peter S. Beagle
Watership Down - Richard Adams
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - Patricia McKillip
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever - Stephen R. Donaldson

Wait a minute, that's only 8 books. (looks over the list again) alright, only 8 books then. geez. Interestingly enough, all of those 8 are on my (ever-growing) list of favorites. In fact, just looking at the names is enough to make me want to reread them all.

But, there's so much on the list that I always MEANT to read, and seriously need to! The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. The Dying Earth books by Jack Vance. Anything by Fritz Leiber. I've never read A Wizard of Earthsea, for crying out loud! or anything at all by Guy Gavriel Kay! This just doesn't seem right.

Not to mention the books that I've never heard of, but that sound intriguing enough to check out. Day of the Minotaur by Thomas Burnett Swann, for instance. The Owl Service by Alan Garner. And all of this was published over 20 years ago, since which the boom in fantasy has only gotten bigger!

(sigh) You know that feeling you get as a reader, that sinking in the gut when you realize that you're not going to live long enough to read everything that you want to? I'm trying to ignore that feeling and concentrate on the fact that as long as I live, I'll never run out of wonderful, fascinating stories to dive into. Because after all, what's life without reading?