September 2007 Archives

Fine Art Friday


Two images from Paul Klee today, but ones that I wouldn't have necessarily associated with him when I started looking at art today. You know, that's the best thing about Fine Art Friday. I've seen so much that has surprised me.

Class Harbor, c. 1914


St. Germain, View from the Beach

Booking Through Thursday on Friday.....

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.....because how COULD I miss this question????

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

What a lovely idea! I think you ALL should send a book my way. And I'll trust your judgement on what to send me!

No, really, wouldn't that be fun! I wish I could afford it, but at the moment, I'm flat broke.

Let's see. I think I will send out (virtually, alas!) Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger. Just because everyone needs to read an old fashioned, historical, love and honor book now and again.

If I were really rich, I'd send you all Kristin Lavransdatter, but that's obviously going to be in a different life--one where there's actually money to spare!

And for any of you that look excessively happy, I'll send A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. One of the best books I've read, but it will chew you up and spit you out. You shouldn't read it in a troubling time of your life.


Now, what are you gonna send me?

Books 31-50 of 2007 finished!

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Boy, it's been a long time since I updated my reading list with ya'll, huh? Needless to say, at this point the mini reviews will be even "mini-er" than usual.

This summer was the summer of Agatha Christie for me, so I read the following:

#31 What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!
#32 The Body in the Library
#33 Thirteen at Dinner
#34 Murder on the Orient Express
#35 The ABC Murders
#36 Cards on the Table
#37 Death on the Nile

Of all of them, I liked Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express best. I guess I like M. Poirot and his little mustaches better than Miss Marple. But not by much. All were thoroughly enjoyable.

#38 Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi. The story of a dwarf woman during the Nazi years in Germany. Interesting things to say about living through such a terrible time, and how quickly the people wanted to forget how horrible it was, and never admit what had actually happened.

#39 The Golem by Isaac Bashevis Singer. A golem is a monster made by a rabbi to save the Jewish people in time of danger. But once you have brought something to life, how do you handle the things that naturally flow from that? Can you just kill what you have made? Or does it have a life that must be respected? Especially in these times, a Jewish folk tale becomes utterly relevant.

#40 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K.Rowling. Yes, I like 'em. And I liked this one, too. I was surprised by the high body count, and about one of the characters who died saving Harry. And no, I'm not talking about Snape. I like the series, and I liked the ending.

#41 The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty. The story of Uncle Daniel, who is "not quite right" but lives to love and talk and give stuff away. After his 2nd wife, Bonnie Dee, dies, he is charged and tried for murder. Classic Welty.

#42 Little Men by Louisa May Alcott. A reread from my childhood. I still liked it, but it was far preachier than I remembered it. That said, I still loved the boys and Jo and the Professor, even when they were too good to be true.

#43 Captain from Castille by Samuel Shellabarger. Oh, go get this book and read it! Do! Pedro de Vargas, young Spaniard from an honorable family hopes to follow in his father's footsteps. But Diego de Silva stands in the way. Prison, Inquisition, trip to Mexico with Cortez, sitting in jail waiting to have one's heart cut out by the Aztecs, the rich and beautiful Luisa, the fiery and common (or not so common) Catana..... What more do you need in a book?

#44 Isn't It Romantic by Ron Hansen. Called "an entertainment", it is just that--a sweet bon bon of mistaken identity and unlikely people. Natalie and Pierre, a French couple, wind up in Seldom, NE. Will they remember why they love each other, or will they end up with Dick, the handsome rancher, and Iona, a beautiful young waitress?

#45 The Night is Far Spent by Thomas Howard. Cannot be recommended highly enough. I loved this book. A series of essays, easy to read in small bites. Get it. Read it.

#46 Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden. Loyola Classics has reprinted this. Godden's second convent book, this one focuses on the French Dominican Sister of Bethanie, who look for vocations in women who have been sent to prison. Much darker than In This House of Brede, it is still a fabulous read, and shows that the religious life is no guarantor of holiness. Thumbs up on this one.

#47 The Hunter's Tale by Margaret Frazer. Picked this up at the library from their display of "unusual sleuths" books. One of a whole series of Dame Frevisse medieval mysteries. Dame Frevisse is a nun in the convent of St. Frideswide. In this story, one of the convent's pupil's father, the awful Sir Ralph Woderove is murdered while out with his hunting party. Almost everyone wanted to do it, even his own family, but who did? Nothing too special about this. Nowhere near the atmosphere of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, which I think are far superior. Not bad, but I won't necessarily seek out another.

#48 The New Woman by Jon Hassler. Agatha McGee moves into the Sunset Senior Apartments and faces the loss of two dear friends. Fans of Hassler will be interested to see how Agatha copes with this new phase of her life.

#49 Expressions of the Catholic Faith by Kevin Orlin Johnson. Those of us who are converts are often looking for books we can put into the hands of those we know who think we have lost our minds for swimming the Tiber. This book is a very worthy addition to the list of those I regularly send out to people with questions. Johnson has written a very breezy, sometimes funny, book with short chapters discussing various aspects of Catholic life: the liturgy, vestments, art, Mary, etc, etc, etc. Very nice. I also recommend his other books as well.

#50 The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. Meditations on liturgy, lectio, Benedictine spirituality, writing and life by a non-Catholic who is a Benedictine oblate. I find the book both beautiful and frustrating. How can someone be so in love with everything at the monastery (staying two times for 9 months each time), yet remain separate? We couldn't puzzle that out at book club.

So, there we are. I am now nearing the end of The Shipping News and my "sitting in car line book", a funny little memoir called Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana. I promise I won't wait so long to update next time!

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Happy Birthday, beautiful Smock!

And many, many, many more!

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."


what a weenie

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barry man - and i use that term loosely - ilow has cancelled his appearance on the "the view" because he's afraid of the somewhat conservative co-hostess, elisabeth hasselbeck. apparently man - and i still use that term loosely - ilow said that ms. hasselbeck is, and i'm quoting here, "dangerous."

smockpeeve number 7: "idea" people

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"vision without execution is hallucination." ~ joe calloway

help! i'm seeing the word irregardless -- oh, that word is like a fingernail scraping across a chalkboard -- used by journalists! the word used to be confined to the likes of sportscasters and mouth-readers, but now even so-called educated people are using it. why, I even heard it used on *gasp* npr just the other day. the word is regardless, people, re-gard-less. see the -less in there? newsflash: using the ir- prefix and -less suffix in a single word is not only redundant, it’s stupid. i will admit that at times i have horrible grammar and my spelling is abysmal, but at least i’m butchering the correct words. please. stop the madness!


smockdaddy and i saw the brave one last night. two words: uber intense.

jodie won her first academy award playing a victim who, after being bashed from her chrysalis, is reborn into a braver self in the accused. and while thrillers aren't usually the academy's style (oops! did i mention jodie's oscar for silence of the lambs?), my jodie gives an amazing performance of enormous complexity that deserves many awards.

in the brave one, jodie's erica bain, after being beaten nearly to death with her fiancé who doesn't survive the attack, has to emerge from the womb of her fear by reluctantly reinventing herself. it is very evident that erica does not want to become the vigilante she is branded. terrence howard (whom i am growing incresingly fond of with each movie he makes) plays detective mercer who struggles with the moral dilemma of identifying with this magnetic and pitiful nemesis ... she even asks herself if she is looking for the iniquity or if the iniquity is finding her.

this is probably the most symbolic film i've seen in a great while. the scenes of erica's struggle through the hallway of her apartment building as she tries to emerge from the safehaven of her apartment are incredibly "birthlike." detective mercer sounds an awful lot like mercy. and bain is french for bathing -- is erica trying to cleanse herself as she bathes the streets of "the safest big city in the world" of it's grotesque filth? the list goes on and on, but i won’t spoil it all for you here – but i cannot wait to get mamaT to this film this week to see it again and have a lengthy discussion which i’m sure will ensue.

the scene you'll see at the oscars. passionate and profound.

the irony of this morality piece is palpable. more than once erica refers to her hometown as "the safest big city in the world" -- as a viewer you tell yourself, if this is "the safest big city in the world" then our world is very unsafe. the extreme intensity of the brave one stems from the blatant dichotomy at play -- this tale is somehow both visceral and reasonable at the same time. at first erica reacts only when her own life is in danger -- and even when she seeks out a predator, you cannot help but feel she is irrefutably justified.

there were surprisingly few moments when i questioned my own reaction to the violence of the film, but as a catholic you cannot help but struggle with the moral ramifications. i will admit however that while watching the movie it was a small struggle to shrug off my religion. at one point i turned to smockdaddy and commented that "maybe this is how God works through people?" during one scene in particular there was for me absolutely no dilemma -- i was in no way ambivalent about the ... vindication. it is only now, the next day, that i am laboring through the complexity of the subject. which I’m sure was the writers’ intent.

director neil jordan is careful to play both sides of vigilantism, but from the clapping and hoots from last night's audience -- the smock included -- you know the verdict: a reckoning by any other name would smell as sweet.

brainy or boloney?

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a brain sucker in action

i shouldn't think it's so amusing, but i can't help but feel vindicated. i've had one too many peers who have snickered down their noses at me for not "educating" my smocklings at terribly early ages with under-studied but over-hyped baby einstein and the like. i've always maintained that a fool and her money are soon parted when it comes to so-called educational videos for babies. and guess what! according to the latest research, babies basically zone out while watching these videos (not unlike their older siblings who stand agog in front of the television).

well, believe it or not, as researcher frederick zimmerman told science, these videos are little more than "empty calories for the mind." it has also been found that for every daily hour a baby spent watching baby einstein, the child understood an average of seven fewer words than babies who didn't watch the videos. imagine the chagrin of the countless alpha mommies who've dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the "brainy baby" biz.

but, as the attachment parenting professionals have been telling us for decades, babies and toddlers learn from interacting with people. i wouldn't go so far as to agree with zimmerman that it's likely better for a child to watch american idol on a parent's lap than to be parked alone in front of a video that claims to be teaching baby timmy mathematics ... well, maybe if they were watching re-runs of frasier...

there's more at this time article: "baby einsteins: not so smart after all"

second only to this coolest thing!


the smocklings favorite flick right now is roald dahl's matilda. i absolutely love ms. agatha trunchbull, perfectly portrayed by pam ferris -- whom danny devito chose to employ in another summa mama guilty pleasure [which we do not recommend] entitled death to smoochy.

i love ms. trunchbull because she has such a deliciously bad attitude -- "i cannot for the life of me understand why small children take so long to grow up. i think they do it deliberately, just to annoy me!" -- and really great insults "she's a wart. a carbuncle. a festering pool of ooze." she throws around wonderful words like "putrescent" and "pissworm" and, heaven help me, it just makes me giggle.

of course, this from a momma who a few years back, in order to curb her potty mouth, resolved to curse using only bard worthy barbs (read: elizabethan english). it was actually quite fun while it lasted and i'm even considering taking up the resolution again since i found this awesome little jewel: the shakespearean insulter. enjoy!

This is the COOLEST thing!

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Library Elf! It will, if your library is supported on its system, remind you that your library books are due! You can set the reminders for a week before, three days before, etc. You can also set it to remind you of overdues on a regular basis (for me, daily!) as well as books on hold for you.

This is beyond fabulous for me. I have probably paid enough in library fines in my life to build an entire wing onto the building. Just ask my mother!

Quote for today

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A wonderful thing about a book, in contrast to a computer screen, is that you can take it to bed with you.

-------------------Daniel J. Boorstin

Booking Through Thursday

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Okay, so the other day, a friend was commenting on my monthly reading list and asked when I found the time to read. In the ensuing discussion, she described herself as a “goldilocks” when it comes to reading–she needs to have everything juuuuuust right to be able to focus. This caught my attention because, first, I thought that was a charming way of describing the condition, but, two, while we’ve talked about our reading habits, this is an interesting wrinkle. I’d never really thought about it that way.

So, this is my question to you–are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?

Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?

Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?

Are you kidding me? I can read anything, anywhere, anytime. ANY TIME is "just right" for me.

Of course, I like it BEST when I can be in the quiet, with plenty of time. But if I waited for that, I'd never read. And I read every single day. I cannot go to sleep at night, no matter how late it is when I drop into bed, without reading at least a tiny bit--maybe a page or two.

oh fun, fun!

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thanks for sharing, mamaT!

You are Slingback Sandals
Classy and sophisticated
You dress to the nines wherever you go
Even if it's in your couture sweats!

I'm in mourning over a pair of shoes

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Today my silver glitter AVON flip-flops--the ones that I have worn day in and day out. To the pool, to the grocery store, everywhere. My favorite pair. BROKE!! BEYOND REPAIR. Ta da. In the trash.

I'm having a moment of silence in memory of a great pair of flips.

And then I'm wondering just WHAT am I going to put on my feet as my default option from now on.

It's sad.

Courtesy of the sweet mamacita over at Mi Mundo, here's the answer to the shoe quiz for me. AND it's right!

You are Flat Sandals
Casual yet flirty
You look great in a simple top and jeans
Your look is approachable and cute!

Ok, well I don't know about "cute", but approachable, certainly! I'm the one that homeless people talk to outside of the grocery store.

"new york undercover" ... and no wonder


this is listed as "ready to wear" fashion. ready to wear where, i ask you, where?


fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

oscar wilde

the cell phone madness continues

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something i didn't mention on the last cell phone rant because, well frankly i didn't think of it until today when it actually happened ... to me!

have you ever noticed that when you're chatting via cell phone that if another call comes in and the person puts you on hold, what you're really doing is waiting to see if you are call worthy? i mean, if whomever you're chatting with comes back and says, "hey, let me call you back" aren't they really just telling you um, sorry hon, but you aren't as important to me as this other caller? it's like being back in middle school and being told you can't sit next to the cool kids during lunch. even if your friend says something like "i really need to take this call" in an attempt to at least make the other call appear urgent, you're still getting the brush off. . .and losing the popularity contest all in one call. bummer.

Quote for today


Middle age: When you're sitting at home on Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn't for you.

-----------------------------Ogden Nash


It is my heart-warmed and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the telephone.

---------------------------------Mark Twain, Christmas greeting, 1890

Fine Art Friday on Saturday


Given the interest on the entry below, I thought this was an appropriate image for FAFOS:


Diana Ong



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