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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Texas Photo Essay

Finally, some photos of our trip. Hope you enjoy!

Fred, "helping" pack the cooler.

Fred, hanging out the window at the beginning of the trip. Mostly, he slept on his giant bed in the back seat.

One of my favorite stops...a coffee house, of course.

Messing around with Fred at a rest stop.

The rest of these are from downtown Fort Worth. Not exactly the most pet-friendly place, as evidenced by Fred in his carrier. But it was still lots of fun. We love Sundance Square and can't wait to spend more time there (sans Fred). We ate some amazing Tex-Mex on our last visit but settled for Brooklyn-style pizza and a Greek salad at a sidewalk cafe this time! Surprisingly good (considering we were in Texas).

If you made it this far, thanks for checking out the photos!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gossip Girl and Other Guilty Pleasures

The weary travelers have finally returned from Texas, complete with a new apartment and a new job! I'll be working in the serials department at the seminary where Jason will be going to school, so I'd appreciate any academic and/or serials related advice you might have to offer.

Meanwhile, I did have the best of intentions on this trip. I thought, with such a long drive, I'd have plenty of time to plow into Light in August or The Dark Frigate (my next two "challenge" books). I even brought journals and notebooks to record my brilliant thoughts, so I wouldn't forget a single one to blog about.

So, what did I end up reading?

The Gossip Girl series.

That's right. The trashy, self-indulgent series for young adults that all the teenagers (yes, even the boys) I know are devouring right now. Why? Why? Why? motives, again, started out pure. We had several of the books donated, so we've been trying to decide whether to include them in our collection at ACA. I have to say I think I'm going to recommend not doing that. Even though I generally like to err on the side of inclusion, a Christian school library just can't have some materials, and this series just doesn't fit. (Don't worry--I'm giving them to the public library...not burning them or anything.)

However, I had easily made that decision after reading the first book. Why keep reading, you might ask?

Maybe it was because reading any young adult novel instantly transports me back 10 years. Or maybe it was because I was reminded of the reading "breaks" I'd take over the summer during college when I just couldn't handle any more deep, heavy classics and would read only Danielle Steel novels and People magazine. Or maybe, and this is the most embarrassing by far, maybe I really enjoyed the books. (gasp)

I am a little ashamed to admit that I enjoyed reading about the catfights between Blair and Serena, the obsessive stalker-ish behavior the girls resorted to when their boyfriends dumped them, the descriptions of shopping in New York and just all the fun, but bad, bad behavior.

Let me be clear--I would not advise any teenager to look to any of these characters as role models. It's kind of like Chicago--there are NO "good" (i.e. unselfish, upstanding, kind) people. But that's part of the fun of reading it, I think.

In a way, these books belong in the fantasy genre just as much as Harry Potter. Most of the readers will never live this sort of life...will never be in these situations...and will probably never make the decisions these characters do. (And, might I add, that's quite reassuring.)

But, if you're looking for a guilty pleasure this summer, try Gossip Girl. If you're young, you'll just love it. If you're getting older (like me), you'll be appalled at how much young adult books have changed...then you'll be hooked.

You know you'll love them.

Meanwhile, my other guilty pleasures this summer have been...The Ladykillers and Walk the Line soundtracks, big-screen blockbusters (Spider-Man 3, Fantastic 4)--complete with butter popcorn, lots and lots of shaved ice and, as always, coffee!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Texas Update

Jason and I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Texas. So glad to be home...or at least it's home for another few weeks. (sniff-sniff)

We did have a great trip. Fred did well traveling, which is always a relief. We also took a detour coming home through Arkansas/Memphis which was a nice change of scenery. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I'd never really cared about visiting Arkansas (the state that gave us Wal-Mart and the Clintons--hello? my two least favorite things).

BUT...I was impressed with all the nature we saw, the people we ran into and the food we ate there. So, if any Arkansas-ians(?) are reading, don't get offended--I've changed my tune!

Anyway, I promise to post Texas pictures soon, but I'm still trying to catch up on laundry, e-mails and grocery shopping at the moment. Life is crazy but good.

Suffice it to say...

-We found an apartment we absolutely love. It's in a great neighborhood, extremely Fred (i.e. pet)-friendly and actually affordable. The catch? One bedroom, one bath. Yikes! Where will we find any personal space?!

-I got a job in the serials department of the library at Southwestern, where Jason will be going to school. That's a totally new area of the library field for me, but I think I'll manage. More on that to come.

-We got recommendations for a vet, groomers (for Fred and for me--ha), restaurants and churches.


So, the trip was definitely a success. We've really been able to see God at work through this whole process, and this trip was no exception. We can't help but believe that He is leading us step-by-step, and we're so excited (and, yes, still a little scared) to see what's going to happen next!

Again, pictures to come a.s.a.p.!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Deliverance by James Dickey

The whole land was very tense.

An appropriate first sentence for a very tense book.

James Dickey builds up the tension again and again throughout the story. You look for relief around the next bend of the river, only to find a surprising white-water-rapid of a plot turn. Without giving away the ending, the tension doesn't even really end there. It instead fades just a bit, leaving you wondering whether the middle-aged men out to find excitement will ever truly find relief.

With his meticulous attention to descriptions and details, Dickey brings the rural Georgia landscape clearly into focus (quotes below). And that setting is, of course, integral to the plot.

Four good ol' boys who live in the city (Atlanta, I assume, but it's never specific) decide to try and get back to nature--to really live again. They're all having a small-scale mid-life crisis, and, by the end, they're all wishing they had just bought a convertible or got a tattoo instead of trying to tackle the North Georgia woods.

As a side note, I found it interesting that Dickey seems to culturally differentiate between the four main characters and the ones they encounter in the woods. For instance, they're all Southern, probably all have Southern accents. However, the speech of many of the rural residents is written phonetically, and you can really hear their dialects.

Also, the main characters drink beer, hunt, fish and run around a little--in my experience, the classic definition of a good ol' boy. Yet, compared to the backwoods hicks, they're supposed to be the sophisticated ones. However, their sophisticated natures and instincts start to crumble when faced with more primitive circumstances.

A few of those cultural issues aside, I loved this book. It's not my normal genre, but I had a hard time putting it down (partly because I was scared to death). His descriptions of the land were so enjoyable to read, and the characters were, for the most part, believable. A great way to start off my summer reading!

Favorite quotes:

The change was not gradual; you could have stopped the car and got out at the exact point where suburbia ended and the red-neck South began...There was a motel, then a weed field, and then on both sides Clabber Girl came out of hiding, leaping onto the sides of barns, 666 and Black Draught began to swirl, and Jesus began to save...From such a trip you would think that the South did nothing but dose itself and sing gospel songs; you would think that the bowels of the southerner were forever clamped shut; that he could not open and let natural process flow through him, but needed one purgative after another in order to make it to church.

We were going out the far edge of a little town, swinging to the right through the twiggy grayish stuff that is always growing near southern highways. Up ahead the road ran between two hills. Lined up dead center between them was a mountain, high, broad and blue, the color of concentrated woodsmoke. There were others farther back from it, falling back, receding left and right.

There's lots of music; it's practically coming out of the trees. Everybody plays something: the guitar, the banjo, the autoharp, the spoons, the dulcimer...These are good people, Ed. But they're awfully clannish; they're set in their ways. They'll do what they want to do, no matter what. Every family I've ever met up here has at least one relative in the penitentiary. Some of them are in for making liquor or running it, but most of them are in for murder.

Around noon we started up among them [the hills], still on the highway. At an intersection we turned off onto a blacktop state road, and from that onto a badly cracked and weedy concrete highway of the old days...with the old splattered tar centerline wavering onward. From that we turned onto another concrete road that sagged and slewed and holed-out and bumped ahead, not worth maintaining at all...We were among trees now, lots of them...I was surprised at how much color there was in them. I had thought that the pine tree was about the only tree in the state, but that wasn't the case, as I saw. I had no notion what the trees were, but they were beautiful, flaming and turning color almost as I looked at them. They were just beginning to turn, and the flame was not hot yet.

The other side of the river was not dangerous, but the side where we were was becoming more and more terrifying to stand on. A powerful unseen presence seemed to flow and float in on us from three directions--upstream, downstream and inland. Drew was right; he could be anywhere. The trees and leaves were so thick that the eye gave up easily, lost in the useless tangle of plants living out their time in this choked darkness.

Tuesday Links

Just a few quick links to get your Tuesday started...Deliverance review is forthcoming (finally)!

Weekend Edition story about an Arizona library

Great article about Lois Lowry, one of my favorites, in School Library Journal

Meanwhile, check out a couple of noteworthy articles in the May 15 issue of Library Journal. “Invest in Digital” looks at how to make e-products more accessible. “Not Your Family Farm” discusses the status of the database marketplace.

And, finally, kudos to the Birmingham Public Library was one of 20 libraries selected nationwide to demonstrate its community services to members of Congress on June 26 in Washington, D.C for Library Day on the Hill. That's a day of campaigning to U.S. Congressional Representatives as part of the ALA’s annual conference, which is going on in D.C. this month.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fathers and Flowers

We had a great Father's Day weekend at my dad's in Tuscumbia. We managed to fill up the days by hitting a bunch of great Shoals-area restaurants, spending hours strolling through Coldwater Books (my favorite book store in the world, hands down), playing ping pong and just hanging out. (This is the light/water show at Spring Park--the biggest thing to hit Tuscumbia since Helen Keller.)

Since it was Father's Day, I was reflecting a little about fathers in general and fathers of

My husband, who is not an actual father just yet, has done a great job being a dad (sort of) to Fred. Jason is firmer with Fred than I am, which is a good thing because I tend to spoil him (is this a sign of things to come?). But he's also much more patient with the fluffster, whether he's teaching him tricks or disciplining him. I think, whenever we do have kids, I've got a good dad-in-the-making.

Moving on to real dads, though, I just want to take a quick minute to brag on mine. He's a hard worker, smart, generous, full of integrity, has a wicked sense of humor and looks oh-so-cool on his Harley. He's taught me all kinds of stuff, from how to whistle to how to drink coffee properly (according to him, that's black).

Each year that passes, I find myself more and more thankful for him.

And this year was no exception.

This Father's Day, one of my dear friends was missing hers. Her dad was also kind, smart, surprisingly funny and cool (for a minister--at least that's what I thought when I first met him), a man who loved his family and God.

So why did God take him? And why now?
I don't know the answer to this question any more than I know why my mom was called Home when she was. I do know that there is comfort to be found, with time, from God and from family and friends. I also know that losses like this should make us doubly appreciative of the people we do still have with us--and we should be sure to show them how much we love them.

OK, I didn't mean to get too deep or mushy...these are just a few things that have been on my mind lately.

I'll close on a higher note, with pictures of my favorite flowers, hydrangeas. (These are from the garden of a lady from our church.)

My wedding bouquet was an enormous bunch of this color blue hydrangeas, and, if I ever pick up gardening, these will be the first ones there!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

First off, let me just say how much I'm enjoying the Southern Summer Reading Challenge. I started off with Deliverance, and I'm almost finished. It's great reading about the hot Georgia woods in the midst of our hot, dry weather. Definitely makes it more poignant.

However, I have a hard time focusing on one book at a time, so I also picked up Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name to read at the same time.
Weather-wise, I could not have made a better choice.

After her father's death, Clarissa returns home to settle his estate, when she comes upon her birth certificate. She learns her father wasn't her father after all. Not only does she have to deal with this upsetting news, but she is also still reeling from her mother's abandonment years before. And, to top it all off, she realizes her fiancee was in on the truth about her father from the beginning.

So, Clarissa leaves it all behind and heads for the Arctic Circle to find her real father. Little does she know...oh, but I don't want to spoil the surprises. :)

This is a quick read, but fantastically-written, full of twists and turns and perfect for these steamy summer days when you want to envision yourself freezing in the Arctic!

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Can I just say...Kozy's=yum.

How did I get through four years of college here without realizing this great place even existed?

Jason and I considered having our rehearsal dinner there but went decidedly more casual...and ordered pizza.
(It fit the whole wedding mood a little better--haha.)

Anyway, we've been meaning to try it ever since then--almost two years ago. My dad had apparently had enough of our intentions, took matters into his own hands and treated us to dinner there last night. (Thanks again, Dad!)

After a stuffed mushrooms appetizer, molasses salmon for me and steaks for the boys, we all went home full and impressed.

But I must say, as delicious as the food was, I think the most fun thing was playing who's who with the old movie stars on the wall.

So, if you're looking for something a little different in Tuscaloosa, give Kozy's a try. Meanwhile, if you're looking for something tasty up north, try Cosi. (Similar name--different food.)

Quick Links for June

Need some ideas for summer reading? Morning Edition is here to help.

Meanwhile...lots going on in the world of archives these days...

Also...a Huntsville Times story about a technical library

And, finally, what is a library?


Friday, June 08, 2007

Accident-Prone Me

Since Jason broke his rib in January, then had the whole detached retina thing in April, my brother has been giving me a hard time about roughing him up--calling Jason "Sugar Ray" (as in Leonard--boxer who had a detached retina) and joking that I'm really keeping my husband in line during the first couple of years of marriage. I guess you could say that Jason is getting his revenge (even though he likes to remind me that domestic violence is no joke).

Just this week...I ran into a rack at Blockbuster, fell off a chair and caught my foot under the bed. All that left me with a peach-sized bruise on my arm that's the color of a grape/banana (odd?)...a gash and bruise on my foot...and another big ol' bruise on my...bum area.

No pictures this time, for obvious reasons!!

I've always been accident-prone, even as a little kid. Unbelievably, I never broke anything, even though I sprained each of my ankles half a dozen times. My parents used to say they were embarrassed to take me out because of all the cuts and bruises they didn't inflict! And I'm not even going to go into the number of car accidents I've had.

So, now instead of going for my daily walk (soaking up all of Tuscaloosa I can before we leave), I'm blogging...with my foot propped up but trying to balance off of the bruised bum cheek and trying not to run into anything else or fall off anything else or trip or fall down the stairs...You get the idea.

Anyway, here's wishing you a healthy, accident-free weekend!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thimble Summer

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright

Garnet is a charming young lady lost in her thoughts, consumed with observations of life on her family farm.

After finding a silver thimble while swimming in the river, she begins to have what she calls a magical thimble summer. Her summer adventures range from hitchhiking to making friends to showing a blue-ribbon pig at the county fair.

Garnet's adventures are of the everyday variety, and the novel focuses more on character development than plot. However, it is an entertaining glimpse into another life.

Can you ask for much more in a summer read?

Favorite quotes from Thimble Summer:

Garnet privately thought that vegetables in flower were as pretty as any garden plants. Okra had a creamy blossom with a dark red center like a hollyhock, the eggplants were starred with purple; gone-to-seed onions were topped with globes of lacy bloom, and each squash vine, vivid as a jungle growth, spread dark leaves above enormous orange flowers.

The woods spread, seeming taller and more wild than in the day. How still it was! And yet not really still at all when she listened closely. There were dozens of sounds: hoots of owls, stirring of leaves, a whippoorwill in some distant swamp who talked and talked as if he could never stop. And everywhere, overhead, underfoot and in the air beside her, she heard insects making their tiny noises. But all these sounds together made a sort of stillness.

There was a bulletin in the post-office window that said: "Big Hollow Ladies Annual Picnic Next Sunday. Come One, Come All!" Garnet giggled at this notice, seeing in her mind a group of huge balloon-like creatures in dresses eating sandwiches under a tree. Of course she knew that the Big Hollow Ladies were simply ladies that lived in Big Hollow, but it had a funny sound all the same.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Proper Care and Feeding of Dr. Laura

Before I get to the "real" post, can I just send out a prayer request?

My grandmother broke her hip and shoulder this week. She's doing well, but at 86, it's going to be a long recovery for her.

Meanwhile, since school is out, I've been reading as much as I can get my hands on. Usually, I do my book reviews on my "literary" blog, but I thought these two warranted a more personal look.

Has anyone read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and/or The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage by Dr. Laura? Or does anyone listen to her radio show?

I've never been a listener, but I've heard of her and about her--mostly controversial stuff. So, my wicked little curiosity being what it is, I checked out a couple of her books.


OK, good stuff first. (If you like her, they have the Dr. Laura talking doll--yes, they really do.)

She shoots straight and is about as non-politically correct as Ann Coulter, which I usually like.

She also says don't wait for your spouse to change, be romantic, generous, selfless or just plain nice. You should be doing all those things first--work on your own attitude. (Which, even though I still consider us newlyweds, those are sometimes hard things to do on those long, rough days where you're tired and just want to sit on the couch with pizza and Friends reruns.)

Basically she's saying if you're going to be a wife (and mother)--do a good job of it. Bravo, Dr. Laura...I'm with you so far!

But......(if you don't like her, they also have the Dr. Laura voodoo doll.)

She also says men/women aren't really complete until they're married. And as much as I love my husband and love being married, I just can't quite believe that.

Take a look at these quotes...

"For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others have been made eunuchs; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." (Jesus Christ)

"Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do." (Apostle Paul)

"An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband." (Apostle Paul)

"Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor. Which is one very strong argument in favor of matrimony." (Jane Austen-never married--just threw that one in for fun)

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking marriage. I love being Jason's wife, and I'm proud of it! I'm also trying to be a good wife, as evidenced by reading all these books about marriage-haha. But...I just don't think marriage is for everyone...for different reasons.

Dr. Laura is also a big fan of the traditional roles for men and women. She says guys are supposed to be the breadwinners/providers/car-fixers/yard-mowers. Women, meanwhile, cook, clean and take care of the hubbie and munchkins.

Again, I agree with her to some extent--that if you're going to be a wife and mother, you should do a darn good job of it. I hope to have kids one day, and I hope to stay home with them (maybe even homeschool--whoa). I also agree that too many parents these days don't take their responsibilities seriously and are quick to dump their kids in daycare and not show them any attention.

But, in this exceedingly costly world, it seems to be more and more necessary for both men and women to "work full-time to just get by" (as Billy Joel points out). have extenuating circumstances in life. For example, both of my grandfathers died at a frighteningly young age, leaving my grandmothers to raise their children as single mothers (during the 1950s, no less). And, may I say, they both did a great job of it! have a situation like ours...where my husband is heading back to school...and I'm going to be the one bringing home the (Boca) bacon. :)

OK, that's my rant for this weekend. If you're married, I definitely recommend reading her books--I did get some good things out of them. I just didn't agree with everything.

Meanwhile, I just hope Fred is not going to be scarred by having a stay-at-home dad for awhile-haha.

On the Texas front...things are going well, but please pray for us as we nail down details like jobs, financing, housing, etc...

Now, time to read!

Catching Up and Lots of Quick Links

It has been a whirlwind week! Why did I think having the summer off would make life easier? Just does, really, but it's easy to find ways to fill (ahem, waste) time.

Meanwhile...check out my reviews for my first two Newbery challenge books below. (Get well soon, Nattie--I'm still praying for you.)

Also have a few quick links that I've been neglecting.

Enjoy...happy reading...and I'm off to work on Deliverance and Thimble Summer!

Best Small Library in 2007

Open Source story about libraries

The Four Habits of Highly Effective Librarians

Selznick School of Film Preservation

Futurist take on libraries

Google librarian newsletter

This guy is supposedly burning books to encourage people to read more. What??? Wise up, dude. That's all I'm gonna say.

The Hollywood Librarian makes its debut

Dual-citizen library?

Google book search

Caddie Woodlawn

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

An 11-year-old redheaded tomboy, rambling through the Wisconsin woods with her brothers, making friends with Native Americans and learning what it really means to be a lady. Caddie Woodlawn is part Jo Marsh, part Laura Ingalls Wilder, so, of course, I loved her character and this book as well.

Set during the Civil War, only the major events (Lee's surrender, Lincoln's death) influence the story because, truthfully, most 11-year-olds in 1864 Wisconsin probably weren't greatly affected by the war.

Caddie Woodlawn was apparently Carol Ryrie Brink's actual grandmother, and Brink says she took as few literary liberties as possible when retelling her story. This shines through and makes Caddie an even more believable and likeable heroine.

Modern readers will have to overlook the need for political correctness, however. Native Americans are referred to as Indians, and their mixed-race children are called "little half-breeds."

Nevertheless, Caddie's story made me laugh and cry (sometimes simultaneously). I was sorry to see her story end, but, through hints throughout the book, I am happy to know she had a long, adventurous life.

Favorite quotes from Caddie Woodlawn:

Only half listening to the words, Caddie felt herself being lifted and borne along by the Circuit Rider's voice. It was a kind of music--different from the twanging of the banjo or the birtds at dawn, more like the falling of water over the mill wheel or the chanting of the Indians. It aroused and stirred her. There was a silence after the deep "Amen." And then the silence was broken by a gentle snore.

He was an ugly dog, without Nero's silky coat and beautiful eyes, but he licked her hand gratefully, and already Caddie loved him.

It's a strange thing, but somehow we expect more of girls than of boys. It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful. What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way! A woman's task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness...It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things.

What a lot has happened since last year...How far I've come! I'm the same girl and yet not the same. I wonder if it's always like that? Folks keep growing from one person into another all their lives, and life is just a lot of everyday adventures."

Waterless Mountain

Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer

Younger Brother is a somewhat precocious Navajo boy, who is blessed with great observation skills, incredibly intuitive thoughts and a devoted family. His parents and siblings encourage him to find his own path, explore his spirituality and grow to be a responsible young adult, which he does over the course of the novel.

Apparently Laura Adams Armer lived with Native Americans, and Waterless Mountain is reported to be accurate, especially concerning the descriptions of the culture, speech and overall lifestyle.

However, I found the writing a bit stiff and the plot slow. Because of that, I would more readily recommend Brother Eagle, Sister Sky or The Legend of the Paintbrush to a student. If (s)he is doing deeper research on Native Americans, I would certainly think of this one.

Favorite quotes from Waterless Mountain:

There are flying things and crawling things and swimming things and walking things. Each should be strong in his own way. Of the walking things, man is the weakest because his feet are tied to the ground, and his thoughts fly to the clouds.

Everything was again still except Younger Brother’s heart. That was beating wildly, and words were pounding in his head for release. He knew he had found a new song, and the words poured out of him like the song of the bluebirds. This is what he sang:

In the yellow sun they danced,
Slender Horns and Slender Feet.
Near their shadowed homes they danced,
Slender Horns and Slender Feet.

They traveled westward with the Sun on his way to the Turquoise Woman. Soon Elder Brother would be with his own woman who had raced him to the dawn. His heart sang the song of the Sun.

I travel a trail of beautiful thoughts.
I walk to the ends of earth to your hearth.
O woman of turquoise waiting for me
I travel a trail of beautiful thoughts.

Friday, June 01, 2007

New profile pic...I hope

Crazy crazy crazy week. But I want to change my profile pic before blogging. I'll try to post again soon! (Fred will too. haha)

Read from the beginning...