Saturday, July 25, 2009

Birthday Time

Belated Happy Birthday to Grandboy #1 who turned 14 Tuesday. How that happened is beyond me. I just posted that he'd entered Teenage Boy-hood not long ago. Somehow twelve months passed without my notice.

Anyway, we had a very nice family event -- lunch at the Icheban restaurant (I had the fried rice and vegetable plate) and then back home for birthday cupcakes, chips, Cheerwine (longtime, local non-alcoholic soft drink for those of you who don't follow the blog regularly), pink lemonade, and birthday cake ice cream. And then the birthday presents.

This boy is growing up so fast. (!) His voice has dropped two octaves but of course it yodels all over the place, too. He never knows what's coming out. I try not to laugh at this rite-of-passage affliction, but it's not easy. It's so cute!

He advised me recently that he's thinking of of joining the marines. This is startling to me on several levels, not the least of which is a dream I had years ago when he was still in elementary school, one of my standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and the back door opening -- and there he is, his grown up self, in marine digital print BDUs (the marines were the only ones who had the digital print cammo at that time -- which is how I knew he was a marine). He's grinning and he's proud and his hair is buzz cut practically down to the skull, the kind of haircut he'd never had. It was unsettling then. It's even more unsettling now, in light of the "considering enlistment" revelation. I have cousins who were marines (are marines, they would say). And navy. And army. The dh was in 6 years. Most all of the men in the family have served in the military. But I don't know what I think about this.

He's my boy...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rabbits and Windchimes and Breezes, Oh, My!


video

Sunday afternoon on the patio. Cool breezes, blooming impatiens, tinkling wind chimes. As Martha Stewart would say, this is a good thing.

And not far away, a wild rabbit lolls in the grass. Let me say here that, as a general rule, wild rabbits don't "loll," especially out in the open. They are prey animals in many a food chain. Their vision range is nearly 360 degrees, and they stay on high alert most all the time. Except for this one. She comes out regularly to just...relax. Often she will lie and watch me hang clothes on the line. I don't know why this is interesting to her, but apparently it is. Sometimes I feel like turning toward her and saying, "What!?"

Clearly, she's not the least bit concerned that I might suddenly remember that I come from a long line of hasenpfeffer people.

I've been a semi-country girl all my life, and I've never seen a wild rabbit do this. I once picked wild strawberries alongside one when I was a little girl, but we were both hungry. Lying around like this was so odd to me I looked up "rabbit behavior" on the internet. It apparently has significant meaning among the Family Leporidae:






Life is good.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

THE HELP



I don't often recommend specific books, but I want to tell you that I loved this one. It's what I like to write and what I like to read -- character-driven gravitas with humor, set against an important historical (in this case, the early 1960s) backdrop.

Kathryn Stockett is a stellar writer. Did I say I loved this book?





Friday, July 3, 2009

What I'm Reading/Listening To



















While checking out Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book recently (What can I say? I like "Harry Potter-y" books), I made a discovery. My local library has a wonderful new service -- access to the NC Digital Library. With a library card, a PIN number, a computer and special software downloaded from the library website, you can check out digital audio books (among other things) which can be listened to on your PC or Mac (so far only a few book downloads are Mac compatible) or transferred to you MP3 or iPod. Some books can also be burned to a CD so that you can listen to them in your car. The books are checked out for seven days and you're limited to four selections at a time.

The upside: I love the convenience. Everything is done online, even getting on the waiting list for a popular release. And it's like old times. I grew up doing household chores while listening to soap operas (Guiding Light, Our Gal Sunday, Hilltop House) and variety shows (Breakfast Club, Arthur Godfrey) on the radio, so it's a familiar and enjoyable experience hanging clothes on the line, vacuuming, washing dishes and all the rest of the cleaning while listening to a book I don't have the time or the inclination to actually read. And, an MP3 player with a book on it is also a wonderful thing if you have to go someplace and wait.

The downside: Listening to an author's writing is not the same as reading it, i.e., I get no sense of the writer's "voice." It becomes the voice of the actor or actress who was hired to do the audio version. For example, I can't tell a Jodi Picoult from an Elizabeth Berg or anybody else in the audio versions.

"Voice" aside, some audio book readers are simply better at it than others. Some of the productions are better than others, as well. The Widow of the South, for example had music interspersed for dramatic effect, making it much more enjoyable for me, the old radio listener. Some versions will make a point of telling you when a new chapter begins and there are significant pauses when the narrative switches from one character to another. Others don't tell you anything, or elongate the pauses, which can be confusing.

And some readers are out and out obnoxious. I listened to a non-fiction book (the cover of which isn't above) and found myself insulted on so many levels -- Southern customs, Southern heritage, Southern accent, the South in general. Even the small town where my aunt lives got skewered. Or it sounded that way, thanks to the over-the-top and mocking style of the woman who read the thing. I suppose she wanted to make a very dry and inconclusive book seem witty and exciting. Didn't work, though.

All in all, I have to say I like this new technology. You might want to check your own library to see if they offer digital downloads.


And that's all for this time. Except for my wishing you a HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY...